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Monday, December 24, 2007

Subsidized Food Program Recognizes Lactose Intolerance

Poor people in the U.S. eat some of the unhealthiest diets. They aren't helped by government programs that provide standardized food baskets that fail to take heed of special diet needs.

A recent announcement provides welcome news. The Women Infants and Children (WIC) program is changing its policy.

WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

An article at the Athens Banner-Herald by Benjamin Price details some of the changes.
Federal changes to the Women Infants and Children subsidized food program will add fresh fruits and vegetables to its list of free food packages, improving the diets of thousands of local mothers and their children, said Vicky Moody, nutrition services director for Northeast Health District.

"It's a big deal because it's a problem we've been complaining for a long time - that the cheeses are high in fat and there's not enough fruit and vegetables or whole grains (on the list)," Moody said.


Currently, the families are offered only milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, juice and a choice of peanut butter or a pound of dried beans. Women who breastfeed also can get tuna and carrots. The packages don't include fresh fruits and veggies.

"There were not enough fruit and vegetables or whole grains for the parents," Moody said. "You have an overweight mother and you're telling her to eat more fruits and vegetables, but you're not giving her any help to do that."

Earlier this month the USDA finally added fruits and vegetables to the WIC food packages, along with rice, whole grain bread, tofu and soy milk.

In addition to offering a more balanced diet, Moody said adding soy and tofu gives an important alternative to dairy for lactose-intolerant women.

The federal WIC web site has additional information on its FAQ page

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