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Nov 21 -- The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposes to revise regulations governing the WIC food packages to align them with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and reflect recommendations made by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) in its 2017 report, “Review of WIC Food Packages: Improving Balance and Choice,” while promoting nutrition security and equity and taking into account program administration considerations. The proposed changes are intended to provide WIC participants with a wider variety of foods that align with the latest nutritional science; provide WIC State agencies with greater flexibility to prescribe and tailor food packages that accommodate participants' special dietary needs and personal and cultural food preferences; provide more equitable access to supplemental foods; and better promote and support individual breastfeeding goals of participants to help establish successful long-term breastfeeding.

Written comments must be received on or before February 21, 2023 to be assured of consideration.

WIC Food Packages: WIC provides supplemental foods to address the nutritional needs of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum individuals, infants, and children up to 5 years of age at nutritional risk. Supplemental foods and nutrition education are the primary means by which WIC affects the dietary quality and behavior of participants. WIC also is intended to serve as an adjunct to health care during critical times of growth and development to prevent health problems and to improve the health status of Program participants.

The specific amounts and categories of foods provided by the WIC food packages are intended to be supplemental to an individual's diet and provide specific nutrients determined by nutritional research to be lacking in the diets of WIC's target population. Every WIC participant receives supplemental foods on a monthly basis from one of seven science-based food packages, according to their participant category and nutritional needs.

By design, the quantities and types of foods included in the WIC food packages are intended to (1) contribute to an overall dietary pattern consistent with the DGA, and (2) deliver priority nutrients to participants to meet their supplemental nutrition needs.
 
The proposed changes are designed to achieve the following:

• Provide additional flexibility, variety, and choice to build on current reasonable modifications for individuals with special dietary needs due to medical conditions, as well as accommodations for people with limited cooking and/or storage facilities or cultural and personal preferences (including, but not limited to, vegan and vegetarian diets), while ensuring the delivery of priority nutrients to WIC participants.
• Consider marketplace availability of supplemental foods.
• Increase the actual and perceived value of the WIC food packages to eligible populations.
• Improve equitable access to nutritious foods.
• Promote and support breastfeeding of all durations and intensities (i.e., partially or fully).
• Provide foods in amounts that are more consistent with the supplemental nature of the Program.
• Provide a better balance of required nutrients and align with the 2020-2025 DGA, which emphasize nutrient-dense foods and beverages.
• Align with DGA guidance to consume a balanced diet that meets, but does not exceed, recommended food group and subgroup amounts and nutrients appropriate for an individual's life stage.
• Build on the 2014 changes to the WIC food packages and the positive impact those changes had on participant diet quality and reduced prevalence of obesity among children.

The proposed revisions to the WIC food packages align with the 2017 NASEM report and the 2020-2025 DGA, promote nutrition security and equity, and account for program administration considerations. This part first summarizes the proposed changes to the food packages in the table below and then describes the proposed changes in detail, including the underlying rationale, in the sections that follow. . . .

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-24705 [73 pages]

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