NASEM committee recommends WIC changes

Dr. Helen JensenHelen Jensen, professor, was one of two Iowa State University professors who were involved in a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee, which issued a congressionally mandated report proposing updates to the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Jensen is the head of the Food and Nutrition Policy Division at CARD; the other professor is Alicia Carriquiry, a Distinguished Professor of statistics and former post-doctoral research assistant at CARD.

The committee’s report is intended to provide guidelines that would help better align the WIC program with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and promote and support breast feeding. They recommended changes such as increasing the amount of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and other foods, while reducing the amount of milk, juice, peanut butter, and other various foods. To help encourage and support breast feeding, the committee proposed allowing women to receive the formula needed to support any level of breast feeding. The committee’s recommendations will save approximately $220 million from 2018 to 2022.

WIC is one of the largest nutrition education programs in the US, serving approximately 8 million women, infants, and children in 2015 at a total cost of about $6.2 billion. The program is obligated to provide foods that align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are revised every five years, and an evaluation of the WIC food packages is congressionally mandated every 10 years.