Consumer services

US agricultural agency proposes increased nutritional benefits for families

November 17 (Reuters) – Mothers and children who benefit from a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition program could spend more money on a wider range of groceries under changes proposed in the program introduced by the USDA on Thursday.

The changes to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program — which serves more than 6 million people, according to the USDA — are based on recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the agency’s Food and Nutrition Service said in a statement.

“These proposed revisions have the potential to have positive lifelong impacts on health and well-being,” said Stacy Dean, USDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Food, Nutrition and consumer services, in a press release.

The USDA has also proposed expanding the list of groceries that WIC attendees can purchase with their benefits to include grains like quinoa and teff, a range of non-dairy milks and cheeses, and fish. and canned beans. The agency had pledged to update the foods offered to WIC attendees as part of the White House’s National Hunger Strategy released in September.

The revisions would make permanent an increase in fruit and vegetable benefits that was passed by Congress in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The boost increased children’s product consumption, according to a report by the National WIC Association, a nonprofit organization.

WIC serves low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children up to age five. Participants must use their benefits on specific USDA-approved foods.

The agency will collect comments on the proposed changes until Feb. 21, it said in the statement.

Reporting by Leah Douglas; Editing by Josie Kao

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Lea Douglas

Thomson Reuters

Award-winning Washington-based journalist covering agriculture and energy, including competition, regulation, federal agencies, corporate consolidation, environment and climate, racial discrimination and labor, formerly at Food and Environment ReportingNetwork.