Beginning today, women and children who receive food vouchers through the federal government’s WIC program will be able to use them to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
“It’s a really welcome change,” said Gail Harrison, a public health professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was on the panel that recommended the revisions to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children – the first major change in the program since it began in the 1970s.
A typical family will get $14 a month for produce alone.
The changes, instituted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the program, better reflect the federal government’s dietary guidelines. WIC predated the guidelines by several years and, because it was established at a time when hunger and anemia were problems, emphasized consumption of calcium, iron, protein and vitamins A and C. The revisions reflect today’s problems: obesity and attendant diseases such as diabetes.
The changes also will allow recipients to use WIC funds for whole grains, canned beans, baby food and tortillas.