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Committee Hearing Examines Costs, Benefits of Nutrition Programs

On June 16, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing, “Child Nutrition Assistance: Are Federal Rules and Regulations Serving the Best Interests of Schools and Families?

Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “[E]vidence of the benefits of WIC [Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children] continues to grow. In 2014, the final WIC food package rule increased the 2009 cash value voucher for children from $6 to $8, resulting in over $100 million more in fruit and vegetable benefits provided to WIC children over the past 12 months. A 2013 study found that in one state, WIC participation was associated with improvements in measures of early childhood obesity and preschoolers’ consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat milk. For infants, rates of breastfeeding and appropriate age of introduction of solid foods also improved. In fact, CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] concluded that WIC, among other interventions, may have played a role in the recent leveling off or decline in early childhood obesity rates in 18 states.” Secretary Vilsack continued, “While we continue to share these positive achievements, I am committed to building on them with initiatives that integrate science and evidence-based improvements that can further enhance the WIC program. I am further committed to making continued improvements in the integrity of the WIC program to ensure that the tremendous public investment in this important program is managed wisely…FNS [Food and Nutrition Service] routinely monitors WIC participation, rebates, and food outlays on a monthly basis to ensure the efficient allocation and expenditure of program funds. During FYs 2013 and 2014, FNS conducted management evaluations of the vendor management functional areas in all state agencies to identify current trends and address areas of concern.”

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