Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Background: Revisions to the WIC Food Package

Last Modified: 04/25/2014

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC):
Revisions in the WIC Food Packages - Interim Rule

This interim rule, published in the Federal Register on December 6, 2007, revises the WIC food packages. The revisions align the WIC food packages with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The interim rule revisions largely reflect recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies in its report, "WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change," with certain cost containment and administrative modifications found necessary by the Department to ensure cost neutrality. All WIC State agencies were required to implement the revisions by October 1, 2009.  An interim rule allows FNS to obtain feedback on the major changes as recommended by IOM while allowing implementation to move forward.  The interim rule comment period ended on February 1, 2010.  FNS reviewed and analyzed over 7500 comment letters.  A final rule is currently in clearance.

Materials regarding the former WIC food packages including maximum monthly allowances.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC):  Revisions in the WIC Food Packages - Proposed Rule

This proposed rule, published August 7, 2006, would revise regulations governing the WIC food packages to align the WIC food packages with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and current infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, better promote and support the establishment of successful long-term breastfeeding, provide WIC participants with a wider variety of food, provide WIC State agencies with greater flexibility in prescribing food packages to accommodate participants with cultural food preferences, and serve participants with certain qualifying conditions under one food package to facilitate efficient management of medically fragile participants. The revisions largely reflect recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in its Report “WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change,”  with certain cost containment and administrative modifications found necessary by the Department to ensure cost neutrality.

Comments received during the comment period are available for viewing online.

National Academies’ Institute of Medicine Released Report Recommending Revisions to the WIC Food Packages 

The Institute of Medicine's final report of its review of the WIC food packages, WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change, was released to the public on April 27, 2005.  In September 2003, FNS contracted with the IOM to independently review the WIC Food Packages. FNS charged IOM with recommending specific cost-neutral changes to WIC food packages based on scientific information about the nutrition needs of WIC participants. An initial report, released August 2004, described nutrient needs for the WIC target population, and criteria for new food packages. The final report offers specific recommendations for food package changes. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 requires that the Department issue a final rule within 18 months of receiving the Committee’s report. The Department is reviewing the IOM recommendations closely in order to develop this rule.

Review of the WIC Food Packages by the Institute of Medicine

In September 2003, a contract was awarded to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM), through the Food and Nutrition Board, to independently review the WIC food packages in a 22-month study. Under this contract, IOM has selected a Committee of experts in nutrition, health, risk assessment and economics to conduct this study in two phases. In Phase I, the Committee is using current scientific information to review the nutritional requirements and assess the supplemental nutrition needs of the population served by WIC. Based on this assessment, IOM will, in phase II, recommend cost-neutral changes in WIC food items or amounts to better address the nutritional needs of the WIC eligible population.

On August 19, 2004, the Committee released its Phase I preliminary report, "Proposed Criteria for Selecting the WIC Food Packages." The preliminary report lists priority nutrients and food groups that the Committee will consider in making its recommendations regarding specific foods. The report also proposes criteria that the Committee will use to select the WIC food packages. Using the priority nutrients/food groups and criteria proposed in this preliminary report, IOM will prepare a final report with cost-neutral recommendations for specific foods by February 2005. IOM held two public meetings in Los Angeles, California, and Washington, DC, in the summer of 2004, to hear oral comments on proposed changes in the WIC food packages, and also accepted written comments until November 1, 2004.

Revisions to the WIC Food Packages - Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On September 15, 2003, FNS published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking comments on revisions to the food packages offered through the WIC Program.  The 90-day comment period ended Dec. 15, 2003.  In this ANPRM, the Department solicited public comments on redesigning the food packages offered through the WIC Program to determine if the WIC food packages should be revised to better improve the nutritional intake, health and development of participants and, if so, what specific changes should be made to the food packages.  The Department enlisted independent technical experts via the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board to review available science and comments submitted in response to this ANPRM, and to develop recommendations on revising the WIC food packages for the Department’s consideration.  The Department used comments received through the ANPRM and the IOM recommendations to develop a proposed rule to revise the WIC food packages.