There has been a lot of bad news over the last several months in the form of devastating cuts to food assistance programs, so it’s nice to report a positive (though modest) development for once: the U.S. Department of Agriculture is overhauling its Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to expand access to fruits, vegetables and whole grains for nearly 9 million low-income women and children.

While some of these changes were instituted in 2007 as part of a pilot program, the announcement marks the first improvements to the program in close to three decades; the list of foods that recipients could pay for with WIC vouchers was previously limited to staples like milk, infant formula, cheese, eggs, cereals and bread.

In its final form, the overhaul will boost by 30 percent, or $2 per month, the allowance for each child’s fruit and vegetable purchases, and permit fresh produce in lieu of jarred infant food for babies, if their parents prefer.

The update also expands whole grain options available to recipients and allows yogurt as a partial milk substitute, adding to the soy-based beverages and tofu that were previously included.


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