Posted on December 1, 2009


New WIC Foods Package in effect in Massachusetts


Patrick Murray Administration Announces First new WIC Food Choices in 34 Years

Whole Grains, Fruit, Vegetables, Tofu, Brown Rice, Baby Foods Among New Items for Nutrition Program for Pregnant and Postpartum Women and their Children Under Age Five

BOSTON – The Patrick-Murray Administration announced today that Massachusetts has revamped its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program to reflect the latest science on healthy diets and address obesity. This is the first major change in food offerings to low-income women, infants and children in 34 years and will offer whole grains, low-fat milk, baby foods, fruits and vegetables, as well as stronger support for breastfeeding moms and babies.

“This enhanced nutrition program will supply low-income mothers and young children across our Commonwealth with access to nourishing foods, giving them the ability to make the smart choices that will keep them strong and healthy,” said Governor Deval Patrick.

“This exciting change advances WIC’s preventative public health nutrition role. WIC’s participation has been proven to reduce the national health care bill,” said Secretary Bigby. “In Massachusetts alone, for $1 invested in WIC, up to $3 is saved in Medicaid costs.”

Since 1974, the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children has helped combat childhood hunger, low birth weight, under-nutrition and iron deficiency anemia so that WIC participants have better health outcomes. However, the foods provided by WIC have not changed significantly since its inception in 1974, despite new dietary recommendations to eat less fat, more fiber, fewer calories, fewer sweetened beverages and more vegetables and fruits.

“Almost one-third of our children are overweight or obese, with higher rates among black and Hispanic children,” said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach. “WIC has a long history of success, and is a great place for nutrition education to start. This change is coming at a time when childhood obesity is one of our greatest public health challenges.”

The New Foods available to WIC are whole grain cereals, whole grain breads, canned or dried beans, brown rice, tortillas, tofu, jarred baby foods and cash-value checks to purchase vegetables and fruits. Among the other changes are:

  • Low-or non-fat milk only. All women and children over the age of 2 now have a choice of non-fat (skim) or low-fat (1 percent) milk. Whole milk will only be issued to children who are between 12 and 24 months of age. These changes reflect WIC’s commitment to obesity prevention and provide a consistent message about healthy eating.
  • Vegetables and fruits added. Participants will be able to purchase fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and fruits. Baby vegetables and fruits are also being added.
  • Juice amounts adjusted. The amount of juice provided to women and children will be adjusted to reflect a recommended daily juice intake of no more then four ounces per day. Juice for infants has been eliminated. Excessive juice intake has been strongly associated with overweight and obesity.

In total, the new WIC foods are lower in fat and higher in fiber, and some substitutions are available to meet cultural preferences, with more options possible in the future. These changes will help families meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Healthy People 2010 Objectives set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for infants.

WIC will continue to promote successful, long-term breastfeeding. The new WIC food package offers new incentives for fully breastfeeding mothers and infants, because breastfeeding is considered by the healthcare community to be the best way to provide nutrition to infants.

“Nearly 40% of all babies born in the Commonwealth access WIC services at some point in their infancy” said the WIC Director, Judy Hause. “The Massachusetts WIC Program is a national leader in nutrition innovation and we are confident that the needs of the 217,811 WIC participants we serve annually will be met by offering WIC families a wide variety of healthy, culturally appropriate and family friendly food choices”

WIC is a nutrition program in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that provides nutrition and health education, free nutritious food and access to health care to low- to moderate-income pregnant women, infants and children under five.

For more information about WIC visit

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