Home News WIC Offers New Rules Including More Money for Fruits and Veggies for...

WIC Offers New Rules Including More Money for Fruits and Veggies for Children


Washington, DC – The federal program supporting millions of low-income mothers, babies, and young children with grocery assistance is set to undergo significant changes, emphasizing healthier options and cultural diversity in food choices.

Announced Tuesday by the Food and Nutrition Service, the final rule changes for the program, known as WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children), will be implemented within two years, with some exceptions.

Last updated a decade ago, the new rules will permanently increase monthly cash vouchers for fruits and vegetables—a measure initially introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, participants will have the option to purchase canned fish, fresh herbs, and lactose-free milk, among other changes. The revised voucher system is expected to be in place by June.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized the significance of the changes, stating, “It places a heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables, which we think is an important component of a healthy diet. It’s designed to fill the nutrition gaps that are often in the diets of many of us.”

The WIC program serves approximately 6.6 million low-income Americans monthly, with a budget exceeding $7 billion in 2023. It aims to supplement the food budgets of pregnant, nursing, and postpartum women, as well as provide nutrition for babies and young children up to age 5 through vouchers specifying the types and amounts of food they can purchase.

Despite its reach, officials estimate that only about half of those eligible are enrolled in the program.

Under the new rules, fruit and vegetable vouchers will increase in 2024 to $26 per month for children aged 1 through 4, $47 per month for pregnant and postpartum women, and $52 for breastfeeding women. The changes also broaden access to whole grains and diverse foods such as quinoa, wild rice, teff, and whole wheat naan while reducing allowances for juice and milk.

However, the plan did not incorporate a request from top allergists to include peanut products for babies aged 6 to 11 months, aimed at preventing peanut allergies. Despite evidence suggesting early introduction to peanuts can reduce allergy risks, federal nutrition officials deemed the change beyond the scope of the final rule.

Dr. Ruchi Gupta of Northwestern University expressed disappointment at the omission, highlighting the potential to exacerbate existing disparities in food allergy prevalence, especially among WIC enrollees who often include children of color at higher risk of developing severe peanut allergies.