Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, November 17, 2022 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for today’s announcement of the proposed food package for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which will go a long way in making this critical program even healthier, more accessible, and easier to use.
The proposed WIC food package will build on the White House “National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health” to modernize WIC by supporting the increased value of WIC’s fruit and vegetable benefit, allowing additional flexibility in food package sizes, increasing accessibility to culturally relevant food options, and fastening alignment with the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
This package is a step in the right direction toward increasing program participation, improving WIC participants’ health outcomes, addressing health inequities, and ultimately, helping end hunger in this country.
More than 50 years ago, FRAC was instrumental in the creation and expansion of WIC. More recently, FRAC has uplifted the need for WIC modernization. We know that streamlining the participant experience and improving the in-store experience will go a long way in helping more families with young children benefit from WIC’s ability to support learning and development outcomes, reduce food insecurity, and alleviate poverty as the nation recovers from the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WIC has served as a critical resource for families in low-income households. During the first two years of the pandemic, more families with young children took part in WIC due to pandemic-related waivers issued and enhancements that simultaneously removed barriers and increased the value of participating in the program. WIC waivers allowed participants to conduct appointments over the phone or via telehealth and to receive benefits remotely without the burden of traveling to the WIC clinic.
We need to continue to enhance WIC based on the lessons learned from the pandemic.
FRAC looks forward to working with USDA to support the development of a stronger WIC food package. As USDA gathers comments from November 21, 2022, through February 21, 2023, FRAC will work with its nationwide network of allies and national partners, and people with lived experiences, to gather input on the proposed package.
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.