The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health today announced the expansion of foods available for purchase with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The approved food list was updated to encourage healthier eating habits and meet more nutritional needs.
“This better serves West Virginians by supporting a diet rich in fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, and it also reflects the ability of WIC to adapt and respond to participant requests,” said Emma Walters, Nutrition Services Coordinator with the West Virginia WIC Program. “Together, these changes confirm the program can meet the diverse nutritional needs of mothers, children, and infants, especially in times of chaos, confusion, and need.”
The program also has been diligently working to provide participants with necessary food packages during the COVID-19 pandemic through brand and product substitution, ultimately ensuring an individual is meeting their dietary essentials. Throughout the year, the WIC program has also adjusted other program aspects, such as virtual benefit issuance and the continuation of virtual education, which is an important piece of making sure health and education are working together.
Today’s announcement marks the completion of the first comprehensive revisions to the West Virginia WIC approved food list since 2018. Revisions reflect WIC participant comments submitted in response to surveys, as well as authorized retailer contributions through an advisory council. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved final changes to WIC food lists based on the latest nutrition science.
The 2020 WIC Approved Food List additions provide WIC participants with a broader range of choices, specifically including several additional brands of juices, whole wheat breads and buns, as well as whole wheat pastas. WIC has also focused on enhancing the food list to be more inclusive to those with sensitive dietary restrictions by adding lactose-free yogurt options and more varieties of soy milk brands. These foods give WIC participants more flexibility in their own nutritional choices, and enable pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children to obtain proper dietary nourishment during periods of crucial development.
WIC provides pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 with nutritious, supplemental foods. The program also provides nutrition and breastfeeding education and referrals to health and social services.