Last year, more than 7.7 million Americans participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Through WIC, women, infants and children receive food packages that help them meet their nutritional needs. Since the beginning of the program in the 1970s, the food packages for adult women and children age one and older have included milk and cheese, with yogurt being a more recent addition.
Earlier this month, the National Academy of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board released a report making recommendations for the foods and beverages provided in WIC. While the recommended food packages continue to include dairy for all women and children, the amounts were reduced. The report would also allow for flexibility to allow smaller, more popular containers for yogurt. But the committee did not make any changes to the milk-fat levels, citing that the science was not sufficient to change recommendations to allow for reinstatement of higher-fat or 2% milk.
The committee based their recommendations on information regarding the current food intakes of WIC participants, the recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the cultural and health needs of participants. An important factor in the development of the recommendations required the committee to suggest changes that did not result in any additional costs to the program. In the report, the committee interpreted that the WIC program is intended to be a supplemental program providing moderate levels of food groups rather than the full recommended amounts.
This report doesn’t directly lead to any changes in the WIC program. Following this report, USDA may choose to start the rulemaking process to update the food packages. They may include all the recommended changes, or only part of the recommendations from the National Academy’s report.
To read more details of the recommended changes, please see: “NAS Committee Aims to Reduce Milk, Add Flexibility in WIC Packages” on the IDFA website.