UnidosUS Applauds USDA’s Proposal for a Stronger WIC Food Package That Will Help Latino Families Lead Healthier Lives

The proposed revision to the WIC food package will increase benefits for the purchase of fruits and vegetables, improve access to healthy foods, strengthen nutrition security, and provide more food options and flexibility for participants.

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to the USDA’s proposed regulations that modernize and strengthen the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package, Eric Rodriguez, UnidosUS Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, issued the following statement:

“USDA’s updated WIC food package will give 2.7 million Latino families affordable access to food that helps pregnant women, babies, and young children lead healthier lives. The evidence-based changes offer Hispanic parents nutritious food choices that help protect their families from serious, diet-related diseases that disproportionately harm Latinos, including obesity and diabetes. Examples of important improvements to the WIC food package include an increased benefit amount to enable families to purchase fruits and vegetables, a broader range of healthy food options, and a stronger alignment with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“As part of these upgrades, USDA proposes stronger whole grain standards, including that all breakfast cereals in the food package must be rich in whole grains. This proposal would finally bring WIC in line with both scientific recommendations and the types of whole grain-rich cereals Hispanic children can access through school nutrition programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

“By giving Latino families improved access to affordable fruits, vegetable, and whole grains, USDA’s proposed standards will help to lower rates of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity that disproportionately harm low-income working-class Hispanic families.

“Once the updated WIC food package takes effect, all WIC-participating grocery stores will be required to offer healthier options. As in the past, a stronger WIC benefit will bring healthier food options to tiendas and corner stores in low-income, Latino neighborhoods across the country. Hispanics in these communities—WIC participants and others alike—will have a greater opportunity to live a healthier life with more affordable choices coming to their neighborhood.

“USDA’s proposed WIC food package rule reflects a commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to advance healthy equity by improving nutrition security, shaping healthy habits, and reducing racial disparities in access to affordable healthy foods and health outcomes.”