IDFA Warns That WIC Changes Would Have Significant Negative Impact

US - In comments submitted today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), IDFA warned that the agency's proposed rule changing food packages for participants in The Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) would have a significant negative impact on program participants.
calendar icon 6 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
IDFA also demonstrated how the proposed changes would have extensive economic consequences for the federal government as well as the dairy industry.
The proposed changes would decrease the amount of milk and cheese that program participants are allowed to purchase and would not allow yogurt to be substituted for milk.

USDA proposed the changes based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the WIC package. In an effort to maintain the same program cost, USDA has proposed reducing the amount of dairy and other food products.

According to data from USDA and IOM, however, WIC program participants already often lack adequate levels of key nutrients like calcium, potassium and magnesium, which are readily found in one source: dairy products.

"Our overriding concern is with the overall reduction of the proposed daily allowance for dairy products, down from four to three servings per day for most women and from three servings to two servings per day for children, a decrease of 25% to 33%, respectively," the comments state. "This will likely result in more cases of weakened and broken bones, more surgeries and more hospitalization in the WIC population."

In the comments, IDFA calls for a three-pronged approach to enhance the health and nutrition of WIC participants: (1) maintain the current dairy product allocation of four servings per day for most women, and three servings per day for children; (2) increase the allowance for cheese to be substituted for milk; and (3) add yogurt as an allowable substitute for milk.

Maintaining the current dairy allowance and increasing cheese and yogurt consumption would enhance calcium intake by key segments of the WIC population, the comments explain, especially those who are lactose intolerant. The comments also note that Hispanic women have a preference for cheese products, and Asian women often prefer yogurt in place of fluid milk.

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