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Cumberland County Department of Public Health shares USDA announcement of WIC upgrades, enhanced choice for participants

By Staff Report, posted 1 month ago

The Cumberland County Department of Public Health wishes to share the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement of significant updates to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food packages. The updates, rooted in independent, science-based research, reinforce WIC’s 50-year legacy of promoting positive maternal and child health outcomes for participants in Cumberland County and across the nation.

As outlined in the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, the USDA’s final rule incorporates several key enhancements to better align with the evidence-based Dietary Guidelines for Americans and independent recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine:

  • Culturally Appropriate Options Increased: The updated WIC food packages now offer a more comprehensive list of culturally appropriate food options, empowering participants to make choices that align with their cultural preferences and dietary needs.
  • More Choice and Flexibility: Participants will have increased choice and flexibility in selecting foods that best suit their preferences and nutritional requirements. The introduction of smaller package sizes and expanded substitution patterns enhances the shopping experience for WIC families.
  • Expanded Cash Value Benefit (CVB) Made Permanent: The enhanced Cash Value Benefit, which has helped participants purchase more fruits and vegetables in recent years, is now a permanent fixture of the WIC program. This development comes at a critical time, as rising food costs underscore the importance of increasing access to healthy foods.
  • Based on an Independent, Science-Based Process: USDA’s updates to the WIC food packages are grounded in an independent, science-based review process, which is the cornerstone of WIC's public health success. These revisions build upon prior updates and are expected to yield similarly positive health outcomes for participants.

The USDA’s final rule reflects a collaborative effort to strengthen the WIC program and support the diverse needs of participants nationwide. These updates underscore the program’s longstanding commitment to providing healthy foods, nutrition education and breastfeeding support to families nationwide.

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