Emily Rice Published

U.S. Department of Agriculture Expands WIC Options

A grocery store aisle is pictured with a wide lens, showing both sides and the photographer's grocery cart.
Families who depend on government assistance for groceries will have more options for food choices thanks to a new federal rule.
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A new rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows more flexibility for families who depend on government assistance for groceries.

The West Virginia Department of Health (DH) announced changes to the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, commonly referred to as WIC.

According to a press release, the program increased the amount of money available to low-income families to purchase fruits and vegetables while allowing more flexibility in selecting foods from a variety of cultures.

“These changes reflect the program’s commitment to promoting healthy eating habits and catering to the diverse nutritional needs of West Virginians. By offering a wider variety of healthy choices, WIC empowers participants to make decisions that boost the health of West Virginians who depend on this program,” said Heidi Staats, director of WV WIC, housed within DH’s Bureau for Public Health.

For 50 years, the federal program has given states the power to provide supplemental food, health care referrals and nutritional education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breast-feeding postpartum women. 

The program also benefits infants and children up to five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

According to the DH, West Virginia WIC serves 70 percent of all babies born in the state.

“In a time of rising food insecurity and high food costs, increasing participants’ purchasing power for healthy foods is critical,” Staats said.  “The Office of Nutrition Services will work diligently to implement the more complex flexibilities of the WIC food package final rule within the two-year regulatory timeline. However, families can immediately access the enhanced Cash Value Benefit to purchase fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables.”
To learn more about WIC services or how to apply for benefits call 304-558-0030. Visit dhhr.wv.gov/WIC for more information.