WIC updates nutrition guidelines

Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 3:32 p.m.

To meet new healthy guidelines and to encourage breastfeeding, WIC, a state program that provides free food vouchers, and other services to eligible families, is adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains effective Oct. 1, 2009.

Michelle Dahnke, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, said the new guidelines support the latest nutrition guidelines for pregnant mothers and young children, and it provides incentives for breastfeeding.

WIC, or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, provides food vouchers, nutrition assessment and diet counseling for eligible women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or who have recently been pregnant, infants and children under age 5.

"The new guidelines represent the first change in 30 years to the food package provided to WIC families," said Dahnke.

Below are major changes including:

The addition of fruits, vegetables and whole grains for mothers and children ages 1-5.

The addition of baby food fruits and vegetables for all infants age 6-12 months.

The amount of formula for infants is based on the age and breastfeeding regime of the infant, so as to discourage formula for breastfeeding infants.

The requirement that milk for women and children 2 years- of- age and older be 1 percent-low-fat or fat-free.

Strengthening breastfeeding by providing additional quantities and types of foods for breast-feeding mothers and their infants.

For WIC, each unborn baby counts as 1 extra person in the household.

Income eligibility based on household and monthly gross income include: $1,670 for 1-member household; $2,247 for 2-member household; $2,823 for 3-member household; $3,400 for 4-member household; and $3,976 for 5-member household. Other eligible families include those receiving Medicaid, Temporary Cash Assistance, or Food Stamps.

Sue Wilson, manager for the public health nutrition program for WIC and Nutrition Services for the Florida Department of Health, said the new food guidelines are centered around the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow the American Academy of Pediatric recommendations that infants should be exclusively breasted for the first six months of life.

In addition, she said, breastfeeding should continue with appropriate complementary foods added through at least the first year of life.

Wilson said fully breastfeeding mothers receive the most variety and largest quantity of food including $10 cash voucher for fruits and vegetables.

Fully breast-fed infants 6-12 months of age receive larger amounts of baby food including baby fruits, vegetables and meats.

"The most important change in the WIC food package for breastfeeding mothers and babies is that it will strengthen breastfeeding support," said Wilson. "And discourage unnecessary formula supplementation for breast-fed infants particularly in the first month in order to ensure that the breastfeeding mother is able to establish her milk supply."

To apply for WIC in Alachua County, call (352) 392-4493. For more information, visit www.FloridaWIC.org, or call 1-800-342-3556.

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