Arlington, VA – Today, FMI – The Food Industry Association Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher issued the following statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recently released proposed rule that would update the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package.
“FMI supports flexibility and choice in the WIC Food Package, and we are pleased USDA is proposing to modernize the program in a meaningful way. It is vital that the WIC program reflects consumers' needs and preferences, provides for commercial accessibility to align with product size and availability that helps both consumers and retailers, and is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
“We support the expanded fruit and vegetable benefit outlined in the proposal that would give WIC families greater access to nutrient dense fruits and vegetables. We are also pleased to see the agency providing additional flexibility for package and container sizes that better align with current products on the market, such as whole wheat bread, oats and yogurt.
“Along with existing package size flexibility challenges, the recent supply chain disruptions and product consolidation we saw happening during the pandemic limited product sizes available in the marketplace and impacted the availability of WIC program foods. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, FMI worked tirelessly with many states to get waivers in place to allow for food package substitutions, but those were on a specific category basis. Modernizing the WIC program in this area as USDA proposes would help address these challenges and would provide retailers with greater ability to meet the needs of their customers.
“We look forward to continuing to review the proposed rule and working with our members to provide USDA with substantive feedback on ways the agency can continue to improve the WIC program, which is a vital source of nutrition for millions of mothers and their children and one the food industry is proud to administer.”