The WIC food packages provide supplemental foods designed to meet the special nutritional needs of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, non-breastfeeding postpartum women, infants and children up to five years of age who are at nutritional risk. In September 2003, FNS contracted with the National Academiesí Institute of Medicine (IOM) to independently review the WIC Food Packages. FNS charged the IOM with reviewing the nutritional needs of the WIC population, and recommending cost-neutral changes to the WIC food packages. The IOM selected a Committee of experts in nutrition, health, risk assessment, and economics to conduct this review. In making its recommendations, the IOM considered nutrient intakes and dietary patterns, the major diet-related health problems and risks faced by WICís target population, the characteristics of the WIC Program, and the diversity of its participants. The food packages align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. How do the food packages appeal to WICís culturally diverse populations?
The food packages provide participant choice and variety. Foods such as tortillas, brown rice, soy-based beverage, canned salmon, and a wide choice of fruits and vegetables provide State agencies flexibility in prescribing culturally appropriate food packages.
How do the food packages support breastfeeding?
Is there a list of all WIC-eligible foods available?
Although Federal regulations specify the minimum nutritional requirements for the WIC foods, State agencies have a considerable amount of latitude in determining which foods to include on State authorized foods lists. State agencies make such decisions based on participant acceptance, product distribution within a State, cost, and administrative feasibility. Because State agencies are required to identify WIC-eligible foods, which vary from State to State, there is no consolidated list available. Due to the large number of locally and regionally available foods, including store brands and generics, and the frequent changes in formulation of foods by manufacturers, it is administratively difficult to maintain a national list of all possible WIC-eligible foods.
Are organic foods WIC-eligible?
Organic fruits and vegetables purchased via the WIC cash-value voucher are authorized; there is not State discretion to disallow them. The cash-value voucher may be redeemed for any WIC-eligible fruit and vegetable.
How does the WIC food package account for
participants who have food allergies/intolerances?
Are artificial sweeteners allowed?
Can State agencies authorize package sizes that do not evenly divide into the maximum monthly allowance of a WIC food?
State agencies must authorize container sizes that provide the full maximum monthly allowances of authorized supplemental foods on the State food list. The only exception is for an infant food or formula since rounding up is authorized in order to provide the full nutritional benefit for infants. However, in order to provide variety and choice FNS will allow State agencies the option to also authorize package sizes that provide less than the maximum allowance provided the nutritional integrity of the food package is not compromised. For example, a 15.5-ounce can of beans can be authorized as long as the State agency also authorizes a 16-ounce can that provides the maximum. It would not be appropriate to allow a 46 or 48-ounce container of juice as an option for the 64-ounce container of juice for a child. At least one package size (or combination of sizes) must add up to the full maximum monthly allowance that participants are authorized to receive. The choice to achieve the full maximum allowance must be made available to participants and local agencies must provide appropriate education to participants about how to obtain their full food package benefit.
No. The cash-value voucher may be redeemed for any eligible fruit and vegetable within the types (fresh, frozen, canned and/or dried) authorized by the State. States may not impose further restrictions on eligible fruit and vegetables. For example, if a State chooses to offer dried fruits, it must authorize all WIC-eligible dried fruits, i.e. those without added sugars, fats, oils, or sodium.
Yes, any WIC State agency has the option to authorize farmers at farmersí markets to accept the cash-value voucher. WIC regulations at 7 CFR 246.12(v) specify the requirements regarding the authorization of farmers at farmers" markets. However, the requirements were designed to build on an FMNP infrastructure that already exists.
Does the minimum stocking requirement of at least
two varieties of fruits and two varieties of vegetables apply to
farmers who are authorized to accept the cash-value voucher?
This is a State agency option.
Can sales tax be applied to purchases made with the
Rice-based beverages are not authorized milk substitutes in the WIC Program. Soy-based beverages that meet the Federal WIC nutrient requirements are authorized at the State agencyís option.
Is yogurt WIC -eligible?
anned Fish Questions
No. Jack mackerel is the scientific common name for Trachurus symmetricus; a number of other species are also commonly called Jack mackerel. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Jack mackerel is distinct from the two mackerel speciesóChub Pacific (Scomber japonicus) and N. Atlantic (Scomber scombrus) that are authorized. The authorized mackerel species were chosen because they are lower in mercury.
Are canned sardines with tomato sauce or mustard
Yes, but only those without added sugars, fats, oil or meat as purchased are allowed.
Yes, whole grain breads with added fruit, nuts, and seeds are allowed provided they meet the minimum Federal requirements as specified for whole grain bread. The minimum Federal requirements for whole grain breads do not prohibit the addition of fruit, nuts, and seeds. However, State agencies are allowed to establish criteria in addition to the minimum Federal requirements for WIC supplemental foods; therefore State agencies may choose to disallow whole grain breads with added fruit, nuts, or seeds.
Low-iron exempt infant formula is WIC-eligible but is reserved for infants who have serious medical conditions.
Iron is important for the rapid growth and development of infants during their first year of life. Breast milk naturally contains iron and infant formula is fortified with iron to protect infants against the development of iron-deficiency anemia (low blood iron). Iron-deficiency anemia can permanently hurt infantsí physical and mental development.
Due to this concern the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the leading authority on infant nutrition, recommends that all infants receive either breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year of life. Many studies have shown that problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and colic, are no more common among infants receiving iron-fortified formulas than those receiving low-iron formulas.
Based on these findings and following AAP advice, Federal WIC regulations require that iron-fortified formula be issued to WIC infants that are not breastfed. WIC State agencies may allow low-iron exempt infant formula on an individual participant basis with medical documentation.
Are WIC participants able to choose the brand of
infant formula to feed their infants?
If a WIC participant has a special dietary need,
what does WIC require to receive an exempt infant formula or medical
Where can I find more information about infant
formula and/or report a problem or illness caused by an infant
formula or find out about recalls?
Which infant formulas, exempt infant formulas and
medical foods are WIC-eligible?
Back to WIC Food Package main page
Last modified 10/15/12
|Accessibility | Privacy/Security | Nondiscrimination | USDA|