NH WIC Program Revamps Food Choices to Reflect Latest Nutrition Science

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire WIC Program is joining other WIC programs nationwide in making changes to reflect the latest science on healthy diets and address the growing issue of obesity. This is the first major change in the food offerings to low-income women, infants, and children in 35 years and will include whole grains, low-fat milk, fruits, and vegetables.

Since 1974, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has combated 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 for more 10,000 New Hampshire families have not changed significantly since its inception in 1974 – despite dietary recommendations to eat less fat, more fiber, fewer calories, fewer sweetened beverages, and more fruits and vegetables.

“Over the past year, the Department of Health and Human Services has been developing an obesity prevention program to encourage adults and children to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Public Health Director Dr. José Montero said. “One-third of our WIC preschool children are overweight or obese. WIC has a long history of success and is a great place for nutrition education to start.”

New foods available under WIC are whole grain cereals, whole grain breads, canned beans, brown rice, and tofu as available options, jarred baby foods, and cash-value vouchers for vegetables and fruits. Among the 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%) milk. Whole milk will only be issued to children who are between 12 and 24months of age. These changes reflect WIC’s commitment to obesity prevention and provide a consistent message about healthy eating.
        Vegetables and fruits added. All women and children (2-5 years old) will be able to purchase fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables and fruit.
        Juice amounts reduced. All women and children will receive a new food package to reflect a recommended daily juice intake of approximately four ounces per day. Juice for infants will be eliminated. Excessive juice intake has been associated with overweight and obesity in the preschool child population.

For more information on the WIC changes, visit the New Hampshire WIC Program website at www.dhhs.state.nh.us/DHHS/WIC/foodpackages.htm or call the NH WIC Program at 603-271-4546.