Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Posts tagged: WIC

Celebrating National Farmers Market Week with the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program

A young boy looking over the fresh fruits and veggies with his mother at a farmers market in Mississippi.

Women, infants over 4 months old, and children who are certified to receive WIC benefits are eligible to participate in the FMNP.

Fighting hunger and improving the health of those who receive nutrition assistance can require creative measures.  So as we celebrate USDA’s 16th annual National Farmers Market Week (August 2 -8), it’s important to remember the multitude of benefits farmers markets can offer our nation’s struggling families.

These days, low-income mothers can more easily access fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to farmers markets. And the concentration of fresh and nutritious foods found at these healthy hubs helps introduce more of our nation’s households to a variety of foods that are both good for you and taste great! Read more »

WIC Works: Promoting Breastfeeding & Keeping Mothers & Babies Healthy

Joan Younger Meek, MD, MS, RD, IBCLC, FAAP, Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding

A portrait of Dr. Joan Younger Meek, Master of Science (MS), Registered Dietician (RD), International Board Certified Lactation (IBCLC) Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP), Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding.

Throughout August, we will be sharing stories and resources on the importance of a healthy start for our children and families.

The following guest blog highlights the important work of our partner the American Academy of Pediatrics. The association is dedicated to the health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. In honor of National Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Breastfeeding Week, Dr. Joan Younger Meek discusses the benefits of breastfeeding and the role WIC plays in supporting mothers and newborns.

By Joan Younger Meek, MD, MS, RD, IBCLC, FAAP, Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the most beneficial way a mother can nourish her baby. Breastfed infants have reduced risk of infections, asthma, obesity, diabetes, certain childhood cancers, and SIDS, compared with formula fed infants. In addition to its nutritional benefits, breastfeeding supports the baby’s developing immune system and helps to protect against respiratory and intestinal infections.  This is especially important for babies born prematurely. Breastfeeding may be linked to lower obesity rates in adolescence and adulthood. And the benefits extend to mothers as well—breastfeeding moms have a reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, and postpartum depression compared to mothers who don’t breastfeed. These are just some of the reasons why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed for about the first six months, and to continue doing so as other foods are introduced, for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. Read more »

Building a Better Future for our Children

We know that making sure our children have access to a good education and nutritious food helps put them on a path to success. Building a strong foundation for our nation’s youth means ensuring they have all the tools in place to grow up healthy and strong. However, too many American children live in households where healthy food is not always available. In remote areas especially, families still often face barriers to getting the education and healthcare that they need.  That’s why USDA invests in initiatives that boost nutrition, invest in important rural infrastructure, like schools, hospitals and farmers markets, and help our nation’s rural families access crucial resources they need to give their kids a strong start to life.

Because the importance of a healthy start cannot be overstated, we begin August by celebrating National Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Breastfeeding Week in conjunction with Farmers Market Week. Breastfeeding provides health, nutritional, economic and emotional benefits to both mother and baby, which is why WIC provides support for breastfeeding mothers.  WIC has a significant, positive impact on the overall health of children and over half of the infants in the United States participate in the program. Read more »

FNS Requests Feedback to Strengthen Program Integrity, Improve Technology

SNAP EBT cards

FNS is looking for ways to increase competition in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is committed to supporting struggling families and helping the most vulnerable Americans put food on the table.  Today, over 60 percent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants are children, elderly, or have disabilities.   The WIC program – officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – plays a vital role in the health of low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children during critical periods of growth and development.

So it’s no surprise that we’re dedicated to ensuring participants have efficient access to programs essential to their health and well-being.  To this end, FNS is looking for ways to increase competition in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system, the process by which most benefits are redeemed.  All SNAP state and local agencies and some WIC agencies conduct EBT using magnetic stripe cards similar to debit or credit cards.  By FY 2021, all WIC agencies will be required to use EBT. Read more »

Direct Certification Improves Low-Income Children’s Access to Healthy School Meals, Boosts Program Efficiency

Students at the Wolcott Elementary School in West Hartford, Connecticut enjoying lunchtime

Direct certification can increase access to free school meals for eligible students.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is committed to helping America’s children get the nutritious food they need to learn and grow.  Direct certification for school meals is one important strategy to make that possible for the low-income children.  This process links student enrollment records to states’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program data, so children receiving SNAP or TANF can be directly certified for free school meals without having to submit additional paperwork through applications. 

By using data already verified through SNAP and TANF, direct certification improves efficiency and accuracy for schools.  Just as importantly, families are spared the burden of a separate meals application.  Congress made direct certification a requirement for all schools through the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act. Read more »

Growing with the Times, Expanded USDA Farmers Market Opens for 20th Season

(Left to right)  Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, USDA AMS Deputy Administrator Arthur Neal, Agricultural Market Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo, USDA Farmers Market Coordinator Annie Ceccarini,  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Under Secretary Ed Avalos cut the ribbon opening at the USDA’s 2015 Farmers Market in the east parking lot of USDA in Washington, D.C. on Friday, May 1, 2015. USDA photo by Tom Witham.

(Left to right) Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, USDA AMS Deputy Administrator Arthur Neal, Agricultural Market Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo, USDA Farmers Market Coordinator Annie Ceccarini, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Under Secretary Ed Avalos cut the ribbon opening at the USDA’s 2015 Farmers Market in the east parking lot of USDA in Washington, D.C. on Friday, May 1, 2015. USDA photo by Tom Witham.

This morning, Secretary Tom Vilsack and I kicked off the 20th season of the USDA Farmers Market.  It was quite a celebration, complete with balloons, ribbon cutting and bell ringing!  The market underwent a major redesign and expansion this year to make room for twice as many vendors as we’ve had in the past.  Featuring everything from fresh oysters to delicious pastries to crisp lettuce, today’s market is full of delicious offerings from local farmers, ranchers and food businesses.   

I am so proud that my agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service, has managed this market for the past 20 years, turning it into a true gathering place for USDA and its neighbors, including Washington, D.C.-area employees, residents in Ward 2 and visitors to the National Mall.  The USDA Farmers Market also provides a great business opportunity for entrepreneurs. Read more »