Fruits and Vegetables in WIC Program
For more than a decade, United Fresh advocated for the addition of fruits and vegetables to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC. Starting in 1999, United Fresh championed adding produce to WIC at meetings with the Clinton Administration and USDA.
From 2005-2007, we redoubled our efforts following the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and collaborated with the National WIC Association to ensure that USDA acted on the IOM’s recommendations. In 2009, new federal regulations finally added monthly fruit and vegetable vouchers of $8/month for mothers and $6/month for young children to the WIC program.
More recent advocacy by United Fresh, National WIC Association and allies in the nutrition community has resulted in increasing the value of the fruit and vegetable vouchers to $10/month for mothers and $8/month for children. Fruits and Vegetables now play an important role in the WIC food packages, helping these families eat a healthier diet and helping children develop healthier eating habits. The CDC attributed the recent decrease in early childhood obesity rates to the inclusion of fruits and vegetables in WIC.
Today, more than 8 million at risk, low-income pregnant/breastfeeding women, their infants and young children participate in WIC and the value of the fruit and vegetable vouchers totals $700-800 million/year in new produce purchases. United Fresh is committed to successful implementation of the WIC fruit and vegetable vouchers. As anticipated, WIC families want to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables, specifically fresh fruit for snacks for them and children and vegetables for dinner. Two pilot studies done 10 years ago in CA and subsequent research demonstrates that WIC families purchase a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables with their vouchers.