Thursday, April 28, 2005

IOM: Time for a change in the WIC package

The Institute of Medicine yesterday recommended bold improvements to the nutritional quality of food benefits delivered through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. The changes would reduce benefits for dairy and fruit juice, increase benefits for fruits and vegetables, and improve breastfeeding incentives. According to Robert Pear's article in the New York Times, the changes would be the biggest in the $5 billion-per-year program's history. Pear reported that the new package has been well received by nutrition program advocates:

"The panel has proposed some great innovations like the inclusion of fruit and vegetables, yogurt, tofu and soy milk," said Geraldine A. Henchy, a dietitian at the Food Research and Action Center.

Douglas A. Greenaway, executive director of the National W.I.C. Association, which represents state and local agencies, said: "Members of the panel showed courage. They stood up to pressure from segments of the food industry."

The hard part will be getting these changes approved. USDA commissioned the IOM report, but still must issue its own regulations to implement any changes.

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