WIC food packages getting healthier

Under the new plan, for instance, children 1 year and older will get less milk, cheese and fruit juice. Fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables have been added. Canned salmon will be offered in addition to canned tuna. And participants can substitute soy beverages and tofu for milk.

The changes, part of a national effort, were made to meet the nutritional needs of participants and encourage healthier eating habits. All participants are expected to be on the new plan by the end of December.

Experts have long advocated the benefits of instilling healthier eating habits in young children.

“Poor nutrition leads to chronic disease,” such as diabetes and heart disease, said Dr. Virginia Davis Floyd, an associate professor of clinical community health and preventive medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Through the years, the WIC Program has been a tremendous resource for pregnant women and children, she said.

“It’s been proven to improve health outcomes and brain development,” Floyd said. “For the WIC Program to expand and include healthier foods is a big step in the right direction.”

The Georgia WIC Program serves an estimated 322,000 clients each month.

National studies are being conducted surrounding the impact of the new WIC food packages, and Georgia is participating in these studies. Georgia plans to monitor fruit and vegetable intake among the Georgia WIC population, said Lisa Maria Shekell, a spokeswoman for the DCH.

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