Exciting New Changes to the WIC Food Package

Published on May 3, 2024 in Child Nutrition, Federal Advocacy, WIC

On April 9, 2024, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled the final food package rule for the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This rule, along with full funding for the program in the 2024 budget, is an important update that will help young families get the food they need and want. We applaud the US Department of Agriculture for investing in WIC and the millions of women, infants, and children who rely on the program. 

Among the various essential services that WIC offers, the program provides a food package for participants designed to meet their specific nutritional needs. The food package was last updated in 2014, and since then, advocates have pushed for changes that would better reflect the needs of participants today. This update to the food package is based on science and evidence, aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and is backed by recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The changes emphasize dignity and choice for participants, increase fruit and vegetable benefits for all groups, and provide more support for breastfeeding individuals. 

The final rule makes the increased cash value benefit for fruits and vegetables permanent, which raised benefits from $9 a month to $26 for children, $11 to $47 a month for pregnant and postpartum individuals, and $11 to $52 a month for breastfeeding participants. The increase was first implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic through the American Rescue Plan, and since then, Congress has extended the bump in benefits through the annual budget. With the final rule, the increased fruit and vegetable benefit will be permanently integrated into the WIC food package. 

The final rule also allows for substitutions of certain items and expands food options, providing WIC participants with a greater variety of choices and added flexibilities to better meet cultural and dietary preferences. You can learn more about the updates to the food package here.

What's Next?

The final rule will go into effect on June 17, 2024. WIC state agencies will have up to two years to implement all changes in the updated rule. 

Currently, only 68.9% of eligible Californians participate in the program. The number of families served is limited by the budget. To ensure adequate funding for WIC, thank legislators for fully funding WIC in the 2024 budget and ask them to support WIC in the 2025 budget so all eligible Californians can benefit from the program. 

Ask Congress to extend WIC eligibility for children and postpartum adults and allow for added flexibilities in WIC certification.

Questions? Contact Michelle Lee at michelle@nourishca.org. 


Thank legislators for their commitment to safeguarding the women, infants, and children in our country.