“More than 6 million infants, young children and pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding people rely on WIC for healthy and affordable food, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and other services. The American Heart Association greatly values the USDA’s commitment to improving nutrition and food security by better aligning the WIC food packages with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

“The updated food packages will increase access to fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seafood, all of which provide nutrients to help young children develop and have a healthy future. The packages also will reduce the amount of added sugars by only allowing unflavored milk and setting added sugars limits for yogurt and plant-based milk alternatives. In addition, the revised program will encourage breastfeeding and better support WIC participants’ individual breastfeeding goals. We also applaud the increase to the monthly cash-value voucher for fruits and vegetables, a significant change that will provide participants with approximately half of the recommended daily intake for this food group.

“We are also pleased the new food packages expand the number of whole grain options WIC participants can select, such as quinoa, wild rice, whole wheat pita and naan. The USDA also took an important step by requiring 75% of cereals be whole grain to help ensure that families are getting the proper nutrition, but we are disappointed that the agency did not adopt a 100% requirement as proposed.

“WIC has a proven track record when it comes to promoting the health and development of pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding people and young children. Participation in the program has been shown to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes, reduce the risk of infant mortality, increase breastfeeding rates and cut the prevalence of childhood obesity, along with other positive results. WIC also can address disparities in nutrition security and maternal and child health outcomes for families with lower incomes and in communities of color.

“The final revisions are a significant step in the administration’s efforts to address nutrition security and health equity. The changes will provide new flexibilities that allow participants to choose food and beverages that meet their individual dietary needs, and personal and cultural preferences. The updated food package will build on the program’s long history of success in advancing maternal and child health and ensure that all children get a healthy start in life.”