The purpose of the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Program, commonly referred to as “WIC”, is to support and improve the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and children.
In Washington State, starting June 1, the fruit and vegetable benefits for WIC participants will rise to $35.00 per participant for 4 months. Currently, the value of the fruit and vegetable voucher is $9.00 for children and $11.00 for women.
The WIC fruit and vegetable voucher, called the Cash Value Benefit or CVB, was first added to the WIC food package in 2007 to improve overall nutritional value. This current important short-term increase is part of the American Rescue Plan Act’s overall allocation to improve and modernize WIC services and benefits.
When the WIC program was first developed in the early 1970s, the pressing nutritional issue was iron deficiency and anemia. Fifty years later, pressing issues include not only food security, but nutrition security. So many of the food choices that Americans have today include food that is high in calories, salt, sugar, fat and preservatives, but is lacking in quality nutrition and the micronutrients needed by our bodies for optimal health and functioning.
Quality nutrition and micronutrients are found in whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. This is why the $35 CVB is so important; quality nutrition is protective for health. Quality nutrition is especially critical for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children.
The only thing better than a 4-month increase in the CVB is a permanent increase of a $35.00 Cash Value Benefit. Folks who can make decisions about permanent increases in WIC benefits will be monitoring the redemption rates of the CVB very closely. If you are a WIC participant, please take advantage of all 4 months of this increased benefit. If you know WIC participants, please encourage them to buy more fruits and vegetables with their benefit. It can make a positive difference.