Fruits and Vegetables in WIC
Since 1999, United Fresh has advocated for the addition of fruits and vegetables to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC.
As a result of continued advocacy in conjunction with recommendations of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in 2009 fruit and vegetables vouchers were introduced in the WIC program – ensuring access to fresh produce for participants.
More recent advocacy has resulted in increase of the value of the fruit and vegetable vouchers to $11/month for mothers and $8/month for children. Fruits and vegetables now play an important role in the WIC food packages, helping families and children develop healthier diet and eating habits. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) attributed the recent decrease in early childhood obesity rates to the inclusion of fruits and vegetables in WIC.
Today, more than 7 million low-income pregnant/breastfeeding women, their infants and young children participate in WIC.
Every 10 years, the WIC food package is reviewed to ensure it aligns with scientific recommendations for the populations it serves. In 2017, the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) committee reviewed the WIC food package and provided recommendations to the USDA, which has authority to issue updated regulations based on the report.
The January 2017 NASEM report included a number of recommendations, including increasing the cash value amount for fresh fruits and vegetables.
United Fresh urges the USDA to adopt the recommendations from the NASEM report to allow WIC participants to purchase more fresh produce.