Project Bread comments on USDA’s proposal for WIC

Project Bread

Policy Work

Project Bread submitted comments on USDA’s proposed changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food package.


In November 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released proposed changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food package. WIC is a federal nutrition program designed to support low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding individuals and their young children through a supplemental healthy diet, nutrition and breastfeeding support, and referrals to other social services.

November’s announcement from USDA, which came as a proposed rule that the public had until February 21st to comment on, aims to bring the WIC food package more in line with the latest nutrition science and increase program choice and equity. Changes include an increase to the fruit and vegetable benefit, more non-dairy substitution options, and expanded whole grain options.

Project Bread submitted comments on USDA’s proposed rule, leaning on the expertise of our registered dietitians, who have a combined 20 years of experience working with children and families to promote healthy eating habits. Comments are summarized below by food packages issued through WIC. 


We favor the decision to decrease WIC dollars allocated to purchasing 100% fruit juice and increasing WIC dollars allocated to purchasing whole fruits and vegetables. We would like to propose that 100% juice boxes with less than 10 grams per serving (i.e. Honest Juice boxes) be allowed. Providing an option for families to purchase a healthier alternative, such as low-sugar beverages, flavored with 100% fruit juice, is likely to have a greater impact on decreasing the intake of high-sugar beverages overall.


We recommend including sunflower butter as an alternative to peanut butter. Nut butter serves as a nutrient-dense and shelf-stable protein option for many households. However, many schools no longer allow peanut  butter due to food allergy risks, thus families are unable to use  WIC-approved peanut butter to prepare school lunches for their children. Additionally, It is important that families with children who have a nut allergy be given the option to purchase sunflower butter as an alternative. 


We recommend that WIC recipients be given the option to purchase gluten-free whole grain foods and pasta. Individuals diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance cannot digest gluten, putting them at risk of insufficient intake of soluble and insoluble fiber.


We recommend including whole milk and full-fat yogurt for breastfeeding individuals since they have elevated protein and calorie requirements when breastfeeding. Whole milk is a convenient and highly nutrient-dense option for breastfeeding individuals 


We recommend that non-dairy pea protein milk be allowable for purchase, in addition to expanded options for non-dairy yogurt and cheese. Individuals who cannot tolerate lactose, or who have nut allergies and are unable to tolerate soy, should be given equitable access to calcium sources. 


We recommend that consideration be made to increase WIC purchasing options for lean proteins and healthy fats. This will assist breastfeeding individuals in meeting their protein and caloric needs while reducing the risk of failure to thrive in a breastfeeding infant. To support healthy breastfeeding, WIC needs to emphasize the parent's health as well.

child sitting on kitchen counter holding out food to mother standing next to him
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