Shaheen Joins Letter Urging USDA to Help Working Families Access Healthy Food by Updating Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC Food Packages

March 02, 2022

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to concern revised WIC meals deals less than the proposed rule, Particular Supplemental Nutrition Plan for Women of all ages, Infants and Youngsters: Revisions in the WIC Foods Deals.

WIC is 1 of the most successful federally funded nourishment programs in the nation, bettering dietary and wellness results for approximately 6 expecting and postpartum females, infants, and young children up to age 5. The letter requests that the proposed rule revise the WIC food deals to align with dietary tips from the Nationwide Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medication (NASEM) by making it possible for beneficiaries to invest in extra fruits, greens, and lessen-mercury seafood and imposing more powerful benchmarks for full grains, sugar content, calcium, and protein.

“With food items rates mounting, quite a few family members are additional reliant than ever on WIC and other federal nutrition courses to place healthful food items on the table. More youngsters are benefitting from WIC, with a 7.5 percent countrywide increase in kid participation since the commencing of the pandemic,” the Senators wrote. “…We for that reason urge USDA to promulgate a regulation that features the issuance of positive aspects that will incorporate fruits, vegetables, and decrease-mercury seafood at quantities above NASEM’s charge-neutral tips in a way constant with the scientific basis of NASEM’s critique.”

They continued: “We urge USDA to act expeditiously to promulgate a proposed rule that will boost the wellness of small-revenue females and children.  We enjoy your well timed notice to our ask for.”

The total text of the letter is obtainable in this article or beneath:

 Dear Secretary Vilsack:

Thank you for your ongoing do the job to address nourishment insecurity and strengthen access to wholesome foodstuff as a means to enrich extended-time period health outcomes, such as through the Special Supplemental Diet Plan for Ladies, Infants, and Small children (WIC). As one particular of the greatest foodstuff help programs in the region, with the strongest nourishment requirements across federal applications, WIC is a tested and helpful diet intervention that increases nutritional and health results for 6.1 million expecting and postpartum ladies, infants, and children up to age 5.

To additional boost WIC participants’ accessibility to balanced foods, we urge the Office to just take swift action to problem the proposed rule, Specific Supplemental Nutrition Application for Females, Infants and Little ones: Revisions in the WIC Meals Offers, in get to concern revised WIC food items deals that establish on the tips by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Drugs (NASEM). We are unhappy that the proposed rule has now been delayed twice from projected publication dates in August and December 2021.

The last evaluation of the WIC food deals happened in 2009 and substantially shifted the readily available WIC food items to align with food stuff styles in the Dietary Suggestions for Individuals (DGAs). The 2009 revisions launched fruits, greens, and complete grains to the WIC foods packages, ensuing in improved dietary good quality and wide variety, specially for youngsters. Much healthier selections presented through WIC resulted in improved well being outcomes, with the Centers for Disease Handle and Prevention (CDC) measuring an over-all reduction in childhood being overweight between WIC-enrolled toddlers soon after the 2009 foodstuff package revisions.  We believe that the approaching proposed rule, if primarily based on the NASEM tips, will make added significant enhancements for our nation’s susceptible girls and little ones.

As essential beneath the Balanced, Starvation-Absolutely free Young ones Act of 2010, the WIC food offers were reviewed by an impartial professional panel of NASEM, which issued its final report in 2017. USDA took the constructive step to make sure that the 2020-2025 DGAs are largely constant with the NASEM’s recommendations. Having said that, the NASEM panel was billed by USDA to create charge-neutral tips. In their report, NASEM noted that funding constraints particularly minimal their capacity to advise quantities of fruits, vegetables, and seafood at ranges that would best align WIC participants’ diet patterns with the ideal science and the recommendations of organizations these types of as the Planet Wellness Business.

We notice that in latest a long time, the current food stuff package rules constrained WIC beneficiaries from purchasing food items in the quantities and wide variety predicted by the appropriations supplied for the plan. In the fiscal calendar year 2021 omnibus laws, for example, $1.25 billion in unspent fiscal year 2020 food stuff funding was returned to the Treasury.

For these reasons, we as a result urge USDA to promulgate a regulation that involves the issuance of rewards that will integrate fruits, veggies, and decrease-mercury seafood at amounts earlier mentioned NASEM’s value-neutral recommendations in a method dependable with the scientific basis of NASEM’s evaluate.

Particularly, we urge you to make certain that the new proposed rule involves: amplified fruit and vegetable positive aspects increased reduce-mercury seafood options as a distinct food stuff category throughout kid and grownup food items offers on a month to month basis without the need of a rotating substitution with legumes and peanut butter more offer measurement alternatives, significantly for yogurt and grains an additional substitution pattern, which includes the option for mother and father to acquire clean fruits and greens in put of jarred toddler foodstuff to boost better selection for mother and father and much better criteria for total grains, sugar material, calcium, and protein so that WIC-authorised foodstuff assist WIC households in achieving DGA-recommended eating plan patterns.

With foods prices increasing, quite a few families are a lot more reliant than at any time on WIC and other federal nutrition programs to put healthy foods on the table. A lot more small children are benefitting from WIC, with a 7.5 per cent national raise in kid participation since the starting of the pandemic. The comprehensive 2017 NASEM report is a sturdy basis for added techniques that USDA can just take to increase the dietary value of WIC food offers by growing regular entry to balanced food items like fruits, greens, and decrease-mercury fish to market diet designs that are even even further aligned with NASEM’s recommendations and the DGAs.

We urge USDA to act expeditiously to promulgate a proposed rule that will boost the well being of minimal-money females and kids.  We appreciate your well timed attention to our ask for.