Changes in WIC Food Program

New foods will improve nutrition for more than 300 Thousand Woman Infants and Children

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced changes to the WIC Program's food packages today. IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. said the Illinois WIC program (USDA administered Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) food packages are changing to better meet the nutritional needs of all Illinois WIC participants. The food package is the list of foods covered by the WIC program. Beginning August 3, 2009 WIC participants will be able to purchase fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread and healthier baby food items.

"The WIC program helps pregnant women, new mothers and young children eat well and stay healthy," Adams said. "These changes will better support the nutritional needs of our WIC participants and promote the establishment of successful long- term breastfeeding for our mothers and babies."

This will be the first major change to the WIC food packages since 1980. When the program was first established in the 1970s, food packages were developed based on deficiencies in the diets of low-income pregnant women, infants and children. Targeted nutrients included Vitamin A and C, iron, calcium and protein.

Nutritional needs of clients have changed over time and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published its recommendations "WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change" in 2005. . IOM provided USDA with a sound scientific basis for developing a new set of food packages for the WIC program, which better address the health concerns of child obesity and chronic diseases. The new foods align with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. New foods added to the package include whole wheat bread, soft corn tortillas, brown rice, soy milk, baby foods including fruits, vegetables and meats, and fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Reductions in juice, milk, cheese and eggs, were made in order to align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and be cost neutral.

The Illinois WIC Program currently serves 313,000 low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children across the state. Illinoisans seeking more information may contact the Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Family Nutrition.