For decades, WIC has provided food and other critical resources to millions of families. In 2022, more than 6.2 million people participated in WIC, including almost half of infants born in the U.S. The WIC program plays a key role as a nutrition safety net for these families, including many families of color, who, due to longstanding systemic and structural inequities, experience food insecurity at rates that exceed the national average.
WIC also helps to keep families with low incomes out of poverty—estimates show that the program contributed to a 2% reduction in the child poverty rate by 2019 compared to what the rate would have been without WIC.
In November 2022, USDA proposed updates for the WIC food packages that aim to help families purchase more nutritious foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The proposed changes would:
- Increase the fruit and vegetable benefit, taking it from about $10 per person per month to $25 per child and about $45 per adult.
- Update the food package to align with the latest nutritional science; the last time this was done was almost 15 years ago.
- Allow for a wider range of culturally relevant whole-grain options, like teff, corn meal, quinoa, naan, and more.
RWJF submitted comments in support of these updates and urged USDA to implement the changes as soon as possible. USDA is in the process of reviewing the comments to implement or adjust the proposed rule.