National WIC Association

Press Release: National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released their Review of WIC Food Packages: Improving Balance and Choice: Final Report

January 5, 2017

For Immediate Release

January 5, 2017
Contact: Hannah Shultz

WASHINGTON – The National WIC Association (NWA) is thrilled that key recommendations from the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released today in their Review of WIC Food Packages: Improving Balance and Choice: Final Report reflect recommendations made by NWA, available here. We are delighted that the NASEM recommendations provide WIC families with options and flexibility to meet their dietary and nutrient needs, opportunities for increased consumption and choice in whole grains and fruits and vegetables, decreased certain foods that were found to be offered in too large a quantity or were burdensome to WIC families, and encourage continued and improved support for breastfeeding moms.

Supporting exclusively breastfeeding mothers is a key NWA priority. At the same time, we support the committee’s decision to meet moms where they are by making the partially breastfeeding food package more flexible – allowing appropriate amounts of infant formula, only after careful assessment of the breastfeeding dyad. NWA firmly supports the recommendation that all levels of breastfeeding should be encouraged.

NWA is especially pleased with the NASEM recommendations to increase the value of Cash Value Vouchers (CVV) for the purchase of fruits and vegetables and the increased flexibility in using CVV to substitute other foods, further promoting the increased consumption of whole fruits and vegetables.

The 10-year review of the WIC food package was a legislative priority for NWA and we are encouraged that this first 10-year review demonstrates the importance of nutrition science in WIC. While today's report provides crucially meaningful recommendations, the current WIC food package will not change until a regulatory process led by USDA, including an opportunity for public comment, approves the recommendations for implementation.

The long awaited report is the culmination of three years of scientific enquiry by the NASEM’s independent committee tasked by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to review the WIC food package and recommend culturally suitable, cost-neutral, efficient for nationwide distribution, and non-burdensome to administer revisions. NWA is grateful to the committee, expertly led by Chair, Kathleen Rasmussen and Vice-Chair, Shannon Whaley, for their commitment to a rigorous and thoughtful science-based decision-making process. A summary of the recommended revisions is available here.

This report is an opportunity for USDA to implement positive changes to the WIC food package that would increase WIC participant satisfaction and help 8 million low-income mothers, infants, and young children in the US supplement their diets with healthful food to support healthy growth and development. NWA looks forward to working with USDA and our nutrition partners in moving these recommendations to implementation.

NWA has two upcoming conferences that will discuss the recommendations in more depth. Learn more about and register for the Washington Leadership Conference and the 2017 Annual Conference Education and Training Conference and Exhibits.

NWA is the education arm and advocacy voice of the 12,200 WIC service provider agencies and the over 8 million mothers and young children who participate in WIC nationwide.