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West Virginia Department of Health Announces Expanded Food Options for WIC

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health (DH) has announced new changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – commonly referred to as WIC. 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.  The new rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is designed to better align with Dietary Guidelines for Americans and independent recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  

“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. 

The changes come amid the 50th anniversary of the federal program designed to give states the power to provide supplemental food, health care referrals, and nutritional education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at a nutritional risk. 

Additional changes to the rule include the introduction of smaller package sizes, expanded substitution options to enhance flexibility, and increased access to whole grains.
“In a time of rising food insecurity and high food costs, increasing participants’ purchasing power for healthy foods is critical,” Staats added.  “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 your local WIC clinic or 304-558-0030.  More information is available online at https://dhhr.wv.gov/WIC.