Public Health Solutions (PHS) supports the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposal to make widespread improvements to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package by increasing spending limits as well as broadening the range of foods offered through the program.
WIC serves over 6.2 million pregnant, postpartum and nursing women, infants and children nationwide, providing access to healthy foods, breastfeeding counseling, nutrition education and referrals to other health and social services. As the nation recovers from the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, WIC has proved to be a critical and indispensable resource, especially for low-income families and communities of color, who were already at disproportionate risk of food insecurity. We know from the research that as a result of improved nutritional health, our WIC participants experience lower risk of preterm birth, low birthweight infants, and infant mortality.
In New York City, PHS supports nearly 30,000 low-income women and young children each year, through our nine WIC centers located in low-income neighborhoods. The population we serve is among the most diverse in the nation. More than 90% of the people we serve identify as members of one or more racial or ethnic minority groups and speak over a dozen languages.
The proposal not only moves to better align the WIC food package with current nutrition science and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by including more grains, non-dairy products, canned fish and beans, but also makes permanent the increase in fruit and vegetable benefits approved in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing participants with up to four times the amount they would otherwise receive. These steps to strengthen WIC will tremendously aid families who depend on the program amidst rising costs of food and are an important investment in the vitality of our country.
As the largest community WIC program in New York State, PHS applauds these welcome changes, and we look forward to working with the National WIC Association to support the development of a robust program that will build a healthier future for America’s next generation.