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Posts tagged: WIC

How Research Shapes Vital Nutrition Programs

Nutritional research is key to helping millions of Americans achieve healthier lifestyles.

Nutritional research is key to helping millions of Americans achieve healthier lifestyles.

During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine, such as using research to inform policy decisions about our nutrition assistance programs, which reach 1 in 4 Americans.

America’s nutrition safety net has a broad reach.  SNAP serves millions of hardworking American families, WIC benefits about half of the nation’s infants each year, and the National School Lunch Program touches the lives of about 31 million children every school day, including 21 million low-income children.  Because these and other Federal nutrition assistance programs are a critical resource for families seeking a healthy diet with limited resources, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service knows the importance of shaping them with evidence gathered from rigorous research.

Several flagship studies illustrate how FNS uses research to build the knowledge base about our programs and make continuous improvements to meet the highest nutrition standards: Read more »

Grandparents Help Kids Develop Good Eating Habits

Grandchildren are a treasure.

Grandchildren are a treasure.

Grandkids are a grandparent’s greatest treasure.  From time to time during grandchildren’s young lives, grandparents may have the pleasure of being their caregiver.  Show them how to be healthy, including how to make healthy food choices–an important way grandparents show how much they love and care about their grandchildren.

As a proud grandmother, I can attest that grandkids learn by example!  They mimic everything you do, so be a healthy role model by taking care of yourself and they will learn to value healthy habits.  Use ChooseMyPlate.gov to guide your food choices and better understand the nutrition needs of young children in your life.  Take your grandchildren shopping at a farmer’s market and the grocery store.  Talk about the choices you are making—choosing the juicier oranges or the fresher vegetables.  Help them learn cooking skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives. Encourage them to be active throughout the day. Read more »

Good News about Early Childhood Obesity Rates

Recent studies indicate that obesity rates among young children are finally starting to decline.

Recent studies indicate that obesity rates among young children are finally starting to decline.

USDA believes in giving children a foundation for life-long health through access to healthy food and quality nutrition education.  So, that’s why we are encouraged by a couple of recent studies that indicate that the rates of obesity among young children are declining.  One study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that rates of obesity among young children ages 2-5 years have declined in the last decade, while another found that obesity is declining in low-income preschoolers in 19 states.  These results suggest that we are making progress in our efforts to improve the health of our next generation!  These findings were noted by Dr. Bill Dietz, former Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity during his presentation at the 3rd meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on March 14, 2014.

Efforts to turn the tide of obesity, both within the Federal government and in communities across the country, are having an impact in the preschool population.  The USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services programs are an important part of these efforts.  Through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, USDA is making critical changes to the foods available to children – even the picky eaters. Read more »

The Power of Women in Agriculture

Cross-posted on the White House Council on Women and Girls blog:

Agriculture touches our lives each and every day—whether actively farming and ranching, conducting research, or shopping at the grocery store—and women leaders play an increasingly pivotal role across the board.

The number of farms operated by women has more than doubled since 1978. Across the country, nearly 300,000 women serve as principal operators on 62.7 million acres of farm and ranchland, accounting for $12.9 billion in farm products in 2012. Countless more women live, work and raise families in rural America. At USDA, we support projects designed to help women in agriculture improve production, develop good business and risk management practices and transfer knowledge to other women agricultural leaders. Read more »

WIC Study Finds Program Supports a Healthier Next Generation

The WIC program helps ensure that every American child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.

The WIC program helps ensure that every American child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.

As National Nutrition Month hits its stride, USDA is excited to announce more evidence that the WIC program is building a healthier future for our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable.  A new USDA study finds that the program continues to serve a high percentage of those who qualify, providing them the nutritional access and resources necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

Officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, WIC offers an important boost to the wellbeing of low-income families. The program provides prescribed, healthy, supplemental foods, as well as nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support), and health care referrals to more than 8.5 million low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and young children.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the WIC program as a key public health force in the nation’s fight against childhood obesity. Read more »

USDA, Partners Work to Expand SNAP Access at Farmers Markets

More than 4,200 markets and direct marketing farmers now redeem SNAP benefits across the country.  Farmers’ market incentive programs, which couple access to healthy foods with incentives to purchase healthy products while at the market, help SNAP recipients consume a healthy diet.

More than 4,200 markets and direct marketing farmers now redeem SNAP benefits across the country. Farmers’ market incentive programs, which couple access to healthy foods with incentives to purchase healthy products while at the market, help SNAP recipients consume a healthy diet.

As spring marches closer, farmers markets across the country are ramping up or reopening for the season. In addition to year-round staples like local milk, meat, and grains, the stars of the season—asparagus, onions, new potatoes, lamb, and greens of all varieties—are beginning to make their debuts. In a few months’ time, the markets will be in full swing, bursting with berries and zucchini and other summer fruits and vegetables. Here at USDA, we’re working hard to ensure participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have access to this healthful, local bounty.

Remarkable progress has been made in providing better access to the nation’s 8,200 farmers markets and farm stands; more than 4,200 markets and direct marketing farmers now redeem SNAP benefits.  Beyond providing heightened access to farmers markets, we know that coupling access with incentives to purchase healthy products while at the market helps SNAP recipients consume a healthy diet. A new report from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service makes clear that private sector organizations share the goal of increasing access and incentives, and are willing to dedicate financial resources to ensuring the success of this approach. Researchers for the Farmers Market Incentive Provider Study interviewed representatives from more than 100 organizations that provide financial incentives to SNAP participants redeeming their benefits at farmers markets.  Wholesome Wave is a great example of a not-for-profit organization that partners with 305 farmers markets in 24 states with nutrition incentive programs for doubling SNAP, WIC, and Senior Farmers Market vouchers at farmers markets. Read more »