Updates to WIC Food Packages Aim To Give Participants More Options

May 1, 2024


Katrina Bishop
Policy Analyst


ACHI Communications

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Newly announced updates to the food packages of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, aim to provide more options and flexibility for nearly 7 million moms, babies, and children across the United States — over 60,000 of whom live in Arkansas.

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized the updates on April 9, revising the groupings of foods that WIC participants can use their benefits to purchase. The updates are based on recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.

WIC is an evidence-based public health program that provides specialized nutrition, key resources — including nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and immunization screening — and referrals to health and social services. As of April 2024, just over 60,000 Arkansans participated in WIC, according to preliminary estimates by FNS, including more than 14,000 pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, over 16,000 infants, and nearly 30,000 children ages 1 to 4 years.

WIC food packages include foods and beverages designed to fill in key nutritional gaps and support children’s healthy growth and development. Other changes include a reduction in the amount of milk and juice provided through WIC food packages, to better align with NASEM’s recommendations. Prior to these updates, WIC food packages were providing amounts of milk and juice in excess of the recommended daily amounts. Other updates include:

  • Adding canned fish to more food packages.
  • Requiring canned beans in addition to dried.
  • Offering more flexibility in the amount of infant formula provided to partially breastfed infants.

The updates also are intended to allow WIC state agencies more flexibility to tailor food packages to accommodate participants’ food preferences and special dietary needs, Implementation of the changes will occur over two years, allowing time for state agencies to engage with key partners.

FNS’ efforts to modernize WIC are ongoing. To learn more, visit the WIC Modernization and Innovation webpage.

Find additional information in our explainer, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

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