Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported that women and children who receive food vouchers from the federal government’s WIC [Women, Infants and Children] program will be able to use them to buy fruits and vegetables.
According to the USDA website, WIC provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
Because WIC predated the government’s dietary guidelines, (it was established in the 1970s), its focus was on the concerns of the time–hunger and anemia–so its emphasis was on the consumption of calcium, iron, protein, and vitamins A and C. The program’s revisions reflect today’s issues: obesity and attendant diseases, such as diabetes.
Families are eager for the change because of the high cost of produce compared to other foods. In addition to buying produce, recipients can now use WIC funds for whole grains, canned beans, baby food, and tortillas.
Along with the funding the government has provided for the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, there should be greater access to produce for everyone, which means people won’t have to turn to processed food as their only option.