USDA Official Visits Los Angeles WIC Clinic to Highlight New Provisions in Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Release No.

Cordelia Fox FNS Communications Western Region (414) 705-1311

LOS ANGELES, March 4, 2011 – Today, Agriculture USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon toured a local Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) clinic and highlight the impact of recent legislation reauthorizing the program. Concannon was joined by Western Regional Administrator for Food and Nutrition Service Allen Ng, at the visit to a clinic run by the largest WIC agency in the country, which serves approximately 4% of the nation's total and 23% of California's WIC recipients. While visiting Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE), Concannon highlighted March as National Nutrition Month, toured the clinic, interacted with participants and children, and viewed a certification demonstration.

"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," Concannon said. "We share the responsibility – with state and local governments, community organizations and parents – of ensuring that our nation's children have the access to nutritious foods they need to get a good start in life. The Obama Administration has made significant investments to improve the health and well-being of America's children so that we out-educate the rest of the world."

During National Nutrition Month in March, USDA is encouraging people to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat milk in their meals each day. These recommendations are included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that were recently released by USDA and HHS, which focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Through its 15 nutrition assistance programs, USDA promotes access, resources and pathways for low-income Americans to lead a more healthful lifestyle.

One of USDA's 15 nutrition assistance programs, WIC safeguards the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and counseling and health service referrals.

The PHFE WIC Program provides services in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Sixty-one PHFE WIC Centers are strategically located in high-density areas of need serving 325,000 clients every month. Approximately 200 nutritionists and 500 paraprofessionals provide culturally appropriate services to eligible families.

Improving child nutrition is a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that recently passed Congress and was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation authorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including WIC. The Act will help improve WIC by extending the certification period for children, supporting greater use of EBT technology (similar to a debit card) and expanding support for breastfeeding.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including WIC, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the National School Lunch Program, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. USDA administers these programs in partnership with state and local agencies and works with faith and community-based organizations to ensure that nutrition assistance is available to those in need. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger.