CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Thursday revealed proposed changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC.

In a conference call with journalists, the USDA confirmed the proposed changes will cost $4.1 billion over five years. The changes will need to be approved by Congress before going into effect.

According to a press release from the USDA, the changes are intended to provide WIC families with more assistance while also giving state agencies more flexibility to tailor their WIC packages to accommodate recipients’ personal and cultural food preferences, as well as special dietary needs.

The WIC changes it outlined include:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
    • Boosting the amount recipients receive by four times by making a recent temporary change permanent.
    • Allowing recipients to choose dried or canned fruits rather than just fresh.
  • Reducing the quantity of juice to reflect nutrition guidance, which emphasizes whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Dairy
    • Reducing monthly milk allowances.
    • Requiring unflavored milk only.
    • Requiring authorization for lactose-free milk.
    • Including soy-based yogurts and cheeses to be offered.
    • Removing cheese as a food category for the fully breastfeeding food package.
  • Baby food
    • Reducing infant cereal, infant fruits and vegetables, and infant meat.
    • Added fats in baby food will be prohibited.
    • Increasing formula amounts in the first month for mostly breastfed infants.
    • Increasing flexibility in the amount of formula provided to partially breastfed infants.
  • Grains
    • Expanding whole grain options to include foods like quinoa, blue cornmeal and teff.
    • Legumes and peanut butter to be authorized as substitutes for eggs and allowing state agencies to authorize tofu as an egg substitute.
  • Including canned fish in more food packages.
  • Requiring canned beans and legumes to be offered in addition to dried for those who don’t have time to prepare dried beans.
Proposed updates to WIC’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program

More information can be found on the Food and Nutrition Service’s website.

Those interested in providing feedback on the proposed changes can do so at once the public comment period opens on Monday, Nov. 21, until it closes on February 21, 2023.