In the U.S., there are approximately 9 million women, infants, and children who depend upon the country's food assistance program - called WIC- to afford groceries each month.  Until recently, the standards set in place regulating which foods families could purchase with WIC vouchers had remained static since 1980.  But in the first official overhaul to the program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it would expand the food assistance program to allow families to purchase more fresh and healthy foods.

Before the revamp, the list of foods that recipients could pay for with WIC vouchers was limited to the basics - milk, infant formula, cheese, eggs, cereals, bread, peanut butter, and tuna fish.  But while report after report argued that parents should include more fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains in their families' diet, the cold hard truth is that without assistance, most families on the WIC program simply can't afford luxuries like fresh broccoli or whole wheat pasta.  

The new USDA rules would allow fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables to be added to the list of approved foods.  It would essentially boost each child's food allowance by 30 percent - or $2 - per month.  It's not much, but for many families, it could mean the difference between serving a fresh vegetable at dinner and not.

They new rules also allow for more whole grain products and the addition of yogurt as a milk substitute.

Related posts on MNN:

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.