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Biden Admin Cutting Dairy Allowance for Women, Infant and Children Program in Favor of Soy and Other 'Alternatives'

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service has announced new “science-based revisions” to its monthly allowances for families participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — also known as WIC.

Among the proposed changes, the USDA will be reducing the maximum monthly allowance for daily products.

Participants will instead be offered “more non-dairy substitution options” such as soy-based yogurts, cheeses, and lactose-free milk.

Other proposed changes to the program include:

  • “Expanding whole grain options to include foods like quinoa, blue cornmeal, and teff to reflect dietary guidance and accommodate individual or cultural preferences.
  • “Including canned fish in more food packages, creating more equitable access to this under-consumed food.
  • “Requiring canned beans to be offered in addition to dried.
  • “Adding more flexibility in the amount of formula provided to partially breastfed infants to support individual breastfeeding goals.”
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The changes were announced in a Nov. 17, 2022, news release.

According to Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, the proposed revisions aim to “make positive, life-long impacts on [participants’] health and well-being.”

However, over two dozen lawmakers penned a letter to the USDA on Mar. 8, arguing that the changes could in fact have the opposite effect.

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York and Democrat Rep. Josh Harder of California penned the bipartisan letter, signed by 26 other members of Congress, to contest the new changes — specifically to the proposed rule to reduce the amount of dairy provided to WIC participants.

Should dairy be replaced with plant-based alternatives?

According to the lawmakers, the current maximum monthly allowance for children ages 12 to 23 months old is 16 quarts.

The USDA’s new change would reduce this to 12 quarts.

Similarly, for children ages 2-4 years old, the MMA would be reduced from 16 quarts to 14 quarts, the lawmakers noted.

The largest reduction was aimed at pregnant and partially breastfeeding mothers, whose MMA would be reduced from 22 quarts to 16 quarts.

The lawmakers warned that such a substantial reduction of dairy products “will have unintended and significant negative effects on the health of WIC participants” and urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “maintain the current WIC dairy allotments.”

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“Dairy products provide nutrients that are vital to the health of infants, children, mothers, and expectant mothers,” the lawmakers wrote.

They noted that “about 90 percent of the U.S. population does not meet dairy consumption recommendations” and warned that reducing access to dairy could worsen this.

“We are greatly concerned that reducing dairy in WIC food packages will negatively impact the nutritional intakes and health of program participants, as it will decrease their access to dairy’s nutrients at life stages key for health and development,” the lawmakers wrote.

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