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09:11 AM

USA Today: USDA wants to cut the amount of milk provided to low-income families

By Medora Lee

The USDA has proposed dropping by as much as 25% the amount of milk that mothers and children can receive each month through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC.

The USDA says the cuts are "science-based" recommendations by the independent National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine of world experts. Milk is provided in amounts up to 128% of the recommended daily amount of dairy, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The new recommendations would provide milk in amounts between 71% to 96% of daily recommended dairy, the USDA said. It emphasized WIC is a "supplemental" nutritional program, which the American Academy of Pediatrics says makes the proposed milk reduction consistent with the purpose of the program.

While WIC isn't intended to be used as a primary food budget, the reality may be different for millions of Americans.

More than 6 million low-income mothers and children, including an estimated 43% of all infants in the United States, rely on WIC each month, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service. 

Already 90% of Americans don’t get enough dairy, according to the USDA, and some believe the cut could exacerbate that and have lasting negative effects on the health of children and women.

Dr. Laura Plencner, a pediatrician affiliated with Children's Mercy Kansas City Hospital, said "the tradeoff for decreasing the amount of milk, which most families are not utilizing to the full benefit anyway, comes at the great benefit of increasing the fruits and vegetables, which are drastically too low in the current WIC package." 

About a third of WIC families redeemed more than 90% of their monthly whole milk allotment for children aged 12-24 months and about 20% did for low-fat milk for kids aged two years and up, Lott estimated.

Only $8 in cash value per month per child participant is included in the WIC package for fruits and vegetables, "which is far below the cost of a child eating the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in a day," Plencner said. USDA proposes increasing the cash value to $24 per month per child.


Read the full article via USA Today

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