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FMI, IFPA Welcome WIC Food Package Updates

FMI IFPA logos combined

Last updated on April 18th, 2024 at 05:26 pm

FMI – The Food Industry Association and the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) each welcomed provisions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rule updating package sizes and increasing fruits and vegetables in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). 

FMI Chief Public Policy Officer and SVP of Government and Member Relations Jennifer Hatcher commented: 

“As private sector partners with the federal government serving as points of redemption for WIC participants, FMI and its grocery members are committed to strengthening the program in a way that aligns with the dietary guidelines for Americans and provides WIC customers with greater choice and convenience to make the purchasing decisions that best meet their individual and family needs.

“We applaud USDA’s commitment to permanently increasing the monthly cash-value voucher/benefit (CVV/B) amounts for fruit and vegetable purchases in the WIC program to reflect 50 percent of the dietary guidelines’ recommended fruit and vegetable intake for mothers and children. We also appreciate USDA’s approval of new substitution patterns and package size flexibility, which will improve participant access to and utilization of WIC foods. We expect both rule changes will result in measurable benefits for mothers and young children.”

Hatcher went on to note that FMI was pleased the USDA “accepted the recommendations we made in our comments” as part of the rulemaking process to make these two updates.

“We look forward to working with them and state agencies to implement these changes to ensure all mothers and children served by the WIC program will be able to secure the nutritious foods they need to thrive,” she said.

The announcement will finalize the previously announced proposed changes that include providing more flexibility to tailor food packages to accommodate personal and cultural food preferences and special dietary needs and makes permanent the fruit and vegetable increase participants have been enjoying since 2021. 

“These updates to WIC will be instrumental in improving nutrition security among some of our nation’s most vulnerable populations,” said IFPA CEO Cathy Burns. 

“IFPA members across the supply chain look forward to an implementation of the food package that will allow for continued access to nutritious foods including the full variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available at retail.”

In addition to making the latest increase to the CVB permanent, IFPA identified four notable additions to the rule:

  • It allows participants to substitute their juice allotment for an additional $3.00 in CVB.
  • Allows fresh herbs to be purchased with the CVB;
  • Allows fresh cut fruit and vegetable party trays without dressings and dips to be purchased with the CVB; and
  • Codifies that white potatoes are allowed (this has been true for some time, but now it’s clearly documented).

The WIC program benefits millions of women and children at a time when many lack access to healthy food and nearly half of children do not eat a daily vegetable.

“IFPA has long advocated for the importance of a science-based approach in WIC and today’s announcement delivers on that work,” said IMollie Van Lieu, FPA VP for nutrition and health policy.

“We already know that WIC works at addressing health outcomes and the final food package will do even more to boost the general healthfulness of the WIC program and benefit the women and children it serves.”

Read more produce news from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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