Final Rule Changes To Give Low Income Families Access To More Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains

In Education

Health officials in the United States announced changes to the federal program that supports low-income mothers and their young children. These changes will enable these families to access a wider range of nutritious food options, including more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Final rule changes to increase monthly vouchers to families

The change, known as the final rule changes for the WIC program, include making the increase in monthly cash vouchers for fruits and vegetables a permanent feature, which was initially implemented during the pandemic. Additionally, eligible participants will now be able to include fresh herbs, canned fish, and lactose-free milk in their purchases.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the significance of the emphasis placed on fruits and vegetables, stating that it is a vital component of a healthy diet. Vilsack said the goal of the changes is to address nutritional gaps frequently found in the diets of many individuals.

Starting in this year, the new rules will provide increased monthly fruit and vegetable vouchers. For children aged 1 through 4, the voucher amount will be increased to $26 per month. Pregnant and postpartum women will receive $47 per month, while breastfeeding women will be allotted $52. In addition to the expanded access to whole grains such as quinoa, wild rice, and millet, the changes also introduce foods like teff and whole wheat naan into the program. However, the changes removed monthly allowances for juice, as well as a reduction in milk allowances.

Exposure to peanuts early may prevent allergy

Unfortunately, the plan did not incorporate a requested change from leading allergists, which aimed to include peanut products in the list of approved foods for babies aged 6 to 11 months. Their recommendation stemmed from the belief that early exposure to peanuts can aid in the prevention of peanut allergies.

Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a pediatrics professor and child allergy expert at Northwestern University, expressed disappointment about this exclusion. She emphasized that WIC program beneficiaries often include minority children who are more susceptible to developing peanut allergies. Dr. Gupta warned that this decision might exacerbate existing disparities in food allergy prevalence.

Mobile Sliding Menu