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Healthy Changes Coming To WIC Food Packages

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Tens of thousands of Utah moms and kids will get a much-needed nutritional boost with newly-approved WIC food packages. The Women, Infants and Children program is adding fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to the food vouchers it distributes to more than 72,000 Utah WIC participants.

"The foods provided in the packages have remained relatively unchanged for more than two decades,” said Chris Furner, Utah WIC Manager. “We know many of our clients aren’t getting the nutrition they need, so the new foods will go a long way in helping our participants eat a well-balanced diet with added fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day,” he added.

The new regulations are also designed to promote and support breastfeeding, accommodate cultural food preferences, and supply a better variety of foods, which include:

• baby foods including fruits, vegetables, and baby food meat for exclusivelybreastfed infants;

• whole wheat bread, soft corn or whole wheat tortillas, and brown rice;

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• whole grain cereals;

• canned salmon;

• canned beans in addition to dried beans for ease of serving, and;

• fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Adding fresh fruits and vegetables as well as modifying the issuance of other food items to participants will promote good physical and oral health,” said Furner. “And we expect to see a reduction in the number of overweight clients as our staff members educate them about the importance of eating a balanced diet.”

The federal government is requiring all states to begin issuing the new vouchers by October 1. But local WIC leaders will beat that deadline by three months, making the new foods available to families by July 1, 2009.