As of October 1, the guidelines for WIC, known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (up to age 5), changed its emphasis to more fresh fruit and vegetables, and less infant formula. There are now special incentives for women who breastfeed exclusively for six months.
Traditionally, the WIC infant food packages included big amounts of infant formula, except for the mothers who breastfed. Infants will now receive less formula. With the new rules, mothers of infants will receive different packages depending on whether or not they breastfeed exclusively, partially or depend exclusively on formula. Cash vouchers will be received by mothers and children for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. The vouchers are worth about $8 for every eligible woman or child. The cash value of these vouchers will vary, depending on whether a recipient is a woman or child and whether or not the woman is pregnant.
These guidelines, according to Kimberly St. Louis, of Womensenews, “provide groundbreaking support for breastfeeding.” Women who exclusively breastfeed will receive an enhanced food package. These mothers will continue to receive food packages 12 months after delivery.
Karla Shepard Rubinger, executive director at the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, points out that WIC is an important voice for breastfeeding and these new incentives can help to spread the benefits of breastfeeding to more women and children.
The women who do not wish to breastfeed will receive infant formula and breastfeeding information packets.
The ones who partially breastfeed will receive one can of formula in the first month and are able to receive up to four cans in the first six months.
Cecilia Richardson, nutrition programs director at the National WIC Association, said, “WIC encourages mothers to breastfeed by issuing only one can of powder to supplement breast milk.”
These new guidelines are designed to give WIC state agencies the flexibility to accommodate cultural food preferences. For example, those who are lactose intolerant or who have cultural preferences in New York State can substitute one quart of soy milk or a pound of tofu for one quart of milk. Mothers can substitute whole grain bread for whole grain rice, barley, bulgur or corn tortillas. More canned fish such as salmon and sardines are being offered. One can also get canned beans.
All of these changes have been in-the-making since 2003 and now they have finally come to fruition.