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WIC Program Implements Positive Change

By Megan Tempest in Food on Dec 7, 2009 4:40PM

Megan Tempest
Women, Infants and Children (commonly known as “WIC”) is a state-run supplemental nutrition program funded by the USDA. WIC serves infants and children under the age of five and pregnant and postpartum women who are at nutritional-risk. The menu of services provided by WIC includes nutritional counseling, breastfeeding support, health screenings and referrals. WIC has long provided vouchers for the purchase of cereal, juice, milk, cheese and eggs, as well as dried beans or peanut butter. As of this October, after decades of stagnancy, WIC finally expanded its food package to include fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables.

For many kids, WIC provisions are the sole source of their nutritional intake. Current Illinois WIC statistics estimate the program serves up to 40% of all babies born in our state. Benefits are widespread, available in over 100 Illinois counties. The newly-implemented changes aim to better align with the USDA Dietary guidelines and infant feeding recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Along with the addition of fruits and vegetables, WIC families can now receive more whole grains foods, including bread and tortillas. Allowable amounts of cheese and eggs have been reduced and children beyond the age of 2 are allowed only 1% or skim milk, thus lowering overall intake of calories and saturated fat.