Proposed Updates to WIC Nutrition Program Include Greater Access to Seafood
Public Comment Period Now Open
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) applauds the release of the proposed rule updating the food packages for the Women, Infants and Children’s Supplemental Nutrition program (WIC). Published on November 17, 2022, the new rule is the first food package update of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) WIC program since 2009. This science-based update adds seafood to more of the packages and strengthens the USDA’s efforts to align its nutrition programs with the latest U.S. dietary and health guidelines.
“Including more seafood in the update and expanding its availability in WIC packages for children, pregnant and postpartum women in addition to breastfeeding mothers will be great for their health,” says Bruce Schactler, director of ASMI’s Global Food Aid Program. “It also is a sound investment that will support the U.S. seafood and retail industries, including many small businesses.”
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend two 8-oz servings of healthy seafood a week starting at 6 months of age. Nearly all Americans fall below this recommended amount and miss out on the healthy fats and nutrient-dense, lean protein found in seafood. These proposed changes will improve equitable access to nutritious and accessible canned seafood, including Alaska salmon, for the more than six million underserved mothers and children under 5 years of age currently participating in WIC.
Seafood, in particular wild seafood from Alaska’s sustainable fisheries, adds quality, variety and value to the WIC food packages and is responsive to WIC participants’ requests as it is essential to child and maternal health.
“While this is an important step in the right direction to improve access to seafood,” Schactler explained, “we believe additional seafood options are needed in the WIC food basket, especially cost-effective frozen wild Alaska seafood, in addition to shelf stable canned products.”
ASMI encourages interested parties to provide input on the proposed rule during the public comment period at www.regulations.gov, which will be open from November 21, 2022 – February 21, 2023.