WIC Food Packages - Frequently Asked Questions
* = New or Updated as of 09/17/10
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II. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW FOOD PACKAGES
a. Can State agencies conduct a pilot test
of new food package issuance (on a small-scale) prior to State-wide
If the State agency is referring to pilot testing
the actual issuance of food benefits, the answer is no. As stated in
the interim rule, the State agency may phase-in the new food
packages on a participant category basis, but once the State agency
begins issuing the new food packages, it must be done on a Statewide
basis. Because of issues of equity and participant and vendor
confusion, piloting the issuance of food benefits is not authorized.
If the State agency’s question pertains to the testing of processes
and systems without the actual issuance of food benefits, then yes,
that is acceptable.
b. If State agencies are using a 2 or
3-month issuance cycle, do they begin issuing new packages in August
for the August/September/October benefit periods to assure new
packages are received in October 2009?
Any participant issued benefits on or after October 1, 2009, must
receive a food package based on the interim rule. It is up to the
State agency to decide the process for making this work. The State
agency is encouraged but not required to offer participants the
opportunity to exchange food instruments for the new food package in
multiple-month issuance situations. We would also encourage a State
agency that issues vouchers in August or September for a 3-month or
2-month benefit period to configure its system so that vouchers
valid in October are reflective of the new food packages.
c. Categorical Tailoring
(1) May State agencies categorically tailor the regulatory
monthly maximum amounts of food in the current food packages as
a means of moving toward the food package changes that will be
implemented because of the new Food Package Rule?
Under current WIC food package regulations, categorical
tailoring of food packages, for nutrition reasons only, is
authorized with FNS approval. In accordance with Section 246.10
of Federal WIC regulations and FNS Instruction 804-1, "WIC
Program Food Package Design: Administrative Adjustments and
Nutrition Tailoring," regulatory maximum quantities of WIC foods
may be reduced, but only for sound nutrition reasons.
(2) May State agencies categorically tailor the regulatory
monthly maximum amounts of food in the food packages as a means
of cost savings for caseload management?
No. Categorical tailoring of food packages can only be
approved for nutrition reasons. Although reductions in the
regulatory monthly maximum amounts of food made through
categorical tailoring may result in a cost savings, reduction of
the Federal regulatory quantities for other than nutrition
reasons, even to accommodate anticipated or imminent food
over-obligations, is not an acceptable caseload
(3) Does the ability to categorically
tailor a food package end when the new food package regulations
become effective on February 4, 2008?
The new WIC food package regulations (72 FR 68966) become
effective February 4, 2008, and State agencies must be in
compliance with the new provisions no later than October 1,
2009. During the phase-in period for the new provisions, State
agencies are required to issue food benefits based on either
the new food packages or current food packages but may not
combine the two. State agencies may phase in the new food
packages on a participant category basis only, but may not
"piecemeal" a food package based on combinations of the new and
current regulations. Once implemented, the new food package must
be issued statewide. Under the new WIC food package regulations,
categorical tailoring is no longer authorized, i.e., the
regulatory quantities of foods must be provided in full.
Therefore, once the new food package is implemented, State
agencies may not categorically tailor the amounts.
III. FARMERS and FARMERS' MARKETS
a. May a State agency authorize a farmer
to accept the cash-value voucher if the State agency does not
currently administer the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)?
Yes, any WIC State agency has the option to authorize farmers at
farmers’ markets to accept the cash-value voucher. The interim rule
adds a new 7 CFR 246.12(v) that specifies the requirements regarding
the authorization of farmers at farmers’ markets. However, the
interim rule requirements were designed to build on an FMNP
infrastructure that already exists.
b. If a State agency authorizes farmers’
markets to accept WIC cash-value vouchers, do the farmers need to be
included in the TIP report?
According to WIC Program definitions, farmers are not vendors
and therefore would not need to be included in the TIP report.
c. Are authorized farmers included in the
pool of vendors that must have compliance buys?
No. On page 68971 of the December 6th interim rule,
the preamble states "The farmers may also be excluded from the WIC
monitoring requirements provided they are included in the sample of
farmers upon which the FMNP monitoring requirement is drawn."
Under the FMNP, State agencies must do on-site reviews of a minimum
of 10 percent of farmers and 10 percent of farmers’ markets, which
includes those farmers and markets identified as being the highest
d. If we authorize farmers to accept the
F&V benefit, will we need to track their redemptions via peer group
like other vendors?
The peer group requirements do not apply to farmers. Further,
State agencies do not need to track the cash-value voucher
redemptions of vendors or farmers to apply maximum allowable
reimbursement levels per peer group.
e. Does the minimum stocking requirement
of at least two varieties of fruits and two varieties of vegetables
apply to farmers who are authorized to accept the cash-value
voucher? No. The minimum stocking requirement does not
apply to farmers authorized to accept the cash-value voucher.
However, the intent of the cash-value voucher is to allow
participants choice and variety. State agencies that authorize
farmers to accept the cash-value voucher should consider issuing
cash-value vouchers in small denominations so that participants may
shop at multiple authorized farmers and farmers markets.
f. Can a State agency sign an agreement
with the FMNP rather than individual farmers as vendors?
No, assuming you mean signing an agreement with the farmers’
market rather than the farmer. Although under the FMNP State
agencies are given an option to establish the agreement with the
farmer or farmers’ market, this provision was established at a time
when most FMNP State agencies were issuing coupons that were turned
into a market manager for payment. Now most FMNP State agencies are
using checks which farmers deposit directly into their bank accounts
which negate the need for an agreement with the farmers’ market.
Also, even though FMNP State agencies may establish agreements with
farmers’ markets, the farmers’ market must establish agreements with
individual farmers. As such, an agreement with the farmer is always
IV. CASH-VALUE VOUCHER
a. May a participant pay the
difference when the purchase of allowable fruits and vegetables
exceeds the value of the fruit and vegetable voucher?
This is a State option. However, because
it may be difficult to accurately estimate the exact purchase price
of the fruit and vegetable selections, particularly when fresh,
canned, frozen or dried items
are combined in one purchase, FNS recommends that participants be
allowed to pay the difference when the purchase price exceeds the
value of the voucher. FNS believes that this promotes increased
consumption of fruits and vegetables because participants would be
more likely to use the full cash value, rather than partially redeem
the voucher for fear of exceeding its cash value. Since allowable
WIC purchases would also be allowable Food Stamp purchases, a WIC
participant who is also a Food Stamp recipient could opt to use Food
Stamp benefits, cash or credit for payment of the price difference.
Participants may not, however, be given cash or credit for any
unused portion of the voucher.
Yes. A purchase price is needed even if the cash-value voucher
is for a fixed dollar amount, since the actual purchase price may be
less than the fixed dollar amount of the cash-value voucher.
b. CFR 246.12(h)(3)(v) requires that
vendors ensure the purchase price is entered on the cash value
voucher, either by the checker or the participant. Is this
necessary if the voucher is pre-printed with a dollar amount?
c. Do WIC cost containment provisions
apply to the cash-value vouchers for fruits and vegetables?
No. State agencies do not need to track the cash-value voucher
redemptions of vendors to apply maximum allowable reimbursement
levels per peer group.
d. If a cash-value voucher is used at a
farmers’ market, does the farmer need to collect a signature upon
Yes, the farmer must collect a signature upon redemption just as
a vendor must collect a signature. Because the cash-value
voucher can be used at either a farmers’ market or a grocery store,
it is important that transaction procedures for participants are
consistent for both farmers and vendors to avoid confusion.
e. Would the farmer need to write in the
exact dollar amount of the sale? Or could we pay the farmer the
maximum amount of the cash-value voucher (and assume that the
participant will get most if not all the value of the cash-value
Yes, the exact dollar amount of the sale must be written in on
the cash-value voucher. The State agency has the discretion to
determine whether the farmer or participant enters the purchase
price before the cash-value voucher is signed.
f. If the participant takes multiple
cash-value vouchers to the check-out line, is each cash-value
voucher considered a separate transaction?State agencies may permit the use of more than one
cash-value voucher for one purchase. If, for example, two
six-dollar cash-value vouchers were used for one purchase of
vegetables, one receipt would be sufficient. This is a State
agency option; a State agency may also require that the use of each
cash-value voucher be treated as a separate transaction.
Regardless of which option is chosen, all of the information
required by §246.12(f) must be provided on each cash-value voucher
that is redeemed.
g. Can sales tax be applied to purchases
made with the cash-value voucher?
No, sales tax may not be applied to purchases made
with the cash-value voucher. However, if a participant’s purchase of
fruits and vegetables exceeds the amount of the cash-value voucher
and the State agency allows the participant to pay cash for the
additional amount, the balance is subject to sales tax. If the
participant pays the balance with food stamps, the balance is not
h. Can beans be purchased with the
cash-value voucher?Footnote 5 of Table 4 of the interim rule lists
items that are not for purchase with the cash-value voucher. These
items include mature legumes (beans and peas) in dry-packaged or
canned forms because these are provided as separate food categories
under the legume category and are provided via the regular food
instrument. Beans that are not authorized under the legume
category, e.g., frozen beans of any kind, including frozen forms of
the types of beans authorized in the legume category, may be
purchased via the cash-value voucher.
Dried and canned mature legumes
authorized under the legume category (dry beans, peas, or
lentils in dry-packaged or canned forms)—food instrument only
Frozen beans and any other kind of
bean not authorized under the legume category—cash-value
V. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
a. Can a State agency authorize only fresh
fruits and vegetables?
Yes. However, if the State agency chooses to only
authorize fresh fruits and vegetables it must assure that such a
decision would not adversely impact participants, such as situations
where droughts limit availability of produce and homeless
individuals who may have no ability to properly store fresh produce.
The State agency must also consider the impact such a decision would
have on small vendors.
*b. Can a State agency authorize
only processed fruits and vegetables?
No. The IOM recommended fresh produce issued through
cash-value vouchers. At the State agency’s option, processed
fruits and vegetables (canned, frozen
may be substituted when fresh produce is limited or to accommodate
participants who prefer processed forms. For example, the
State agency may establish a different minimum stock and variety
requirement for small vendors versus larger vendors that allows
small vendors to meet the requirement by solely stocking processed
fruits and vegetables.
c. Can a State agency authorize
canned fruit or canned vegetables (one or the other but not
Yes. State agencies may choose to authorize one or more of the
following processed fruits and vegetables: canned fruit, canned
vegetables, frozen fruit, frozen vegetables,
dried fruit, and/or dried vegetables.
State agencies must, however, offer both fresh fruits and
d. Do State agencies have the
authority to selectively choose which fruits or vegetables are
available to WIC participants?
No. The cash-value voucher may be redeemed for any eligible
fruit and vegetable (refer to Table 4 of §246.10(e)(12) and its
footnotes). States may not impose further restrictions on eligible
fruit and vegetables.
For example, if a State chooses to offer dried
fruits, it must authorize all WIC-eligible dried fruits, i.e., those
without added sugars, fats, oils, or sodium.
e. Are State agencies allowed to disallow
the cut fresh fruit or vegetables, since Table 4 of the interim rule
says "whole or cut"?
No. "Whole or cut" refers to the minimum
requirement/specification of the fruit/vegetable, not the State’s
ability to disallow one or the other. State agencies may not
disallow cut fresh fruit or vegetables, except for those available
for purchase on salad bars and party trays (refer to Table 4 of
§246.10(e)(12) and its footnotes). The purpose of the cash-value
voucher is to allow participants to choose among a variety of fruits
and vegetables, with few restrictions.
f. Are State agencies authorized to
disallow bagged lettuce or salad greens?
g. Are frozen beans (e.g., lima, black
beans, kidney beans) allowed?
Yes, if purchased with the cash-value voucher.
h. Is there a list of the various
names/types of white potatoes that are excluded?
No, FNS does not have such a list. Only sweet potatoes and yams
are allowed. All other potatoes are not allowed.
Are the following allowed?
Canned hominy (without added
sugar, fats, oils)
Canned tomato sauce and tomato
paste (without added sugar, fats, oils)
White and red yams (in
addition to orange)
Mixed vegetables containing beans
Mixed vegetables containing potato
Dried white potatoes
Mixed vegetables containing
noodles, nuts or sauce packets
Salsa (without added sugar,
Spaghetti sauce (without added
sugar, fats, oils or meat)
To determine whether or not sugar, salt, fat, or oils have been
added to processed fruits and vegetables, State agencies should
review the product's ingredient list. If sugar, salt,
fat, or oils have been added to the food during processing, they
will be listed as ingredients. Using the Nutrition Facts Label
is not appropriate for this purpose because some foods may naturally
contain sugar, sodium, or fat, which would be reflected in the
Nutrition Facts label.
j. How can I tell if WIC-eligible
processed fruits and vegetables have no added sugar, salt, fat, or
k. What are other names for added "sugar"
in processed fruits and vegetables that we should be looking for?
Other names for added sugars include: corn syrup, high-fructose
corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, and maple syrup.
Fruits packed in juice or with added fruit juice concentrate are
l. Some foods like canned sweet peas have
some sugar added for processing purposes, not as added sweeteners.
Are these allowable foods under the "no added sugar" restriction?
It has come to the attention of the Food and Nutrition Service that
the requirement for "no added sugar" in canned vegetables may
exclude some commonly consumed foods from WIC State food lists.
We have learned from the Food and Drug Administration that small
amounts of sugar are added to some foods that are naturally
sugar-containing during the canning process to prevent stress
resulting in membrane rupture (i.e. sweet peas). This small
amount of added sugar is minimal and helps to maintain the quality
and structure of the food. To encourage greater variety in
food choices in the WIC food packages, canned vegetables that
contain a small amount of sugar for processing purposes, such as
plain canned sweet peas and corn, are allowed. (See also the FAQ
related to canned beans under "LEGUMES.")
The intent of the interim rule is to disallow herbs primarily
used as flavoring ingredients. The following herbs are not
m. What is considered an herb or spice?
This list is not exhaustive. For items not
on this list, it is up to the State agency to determine what to
consider an herb or spice, knowing that the intent of the interim
rule is to disallow produce primarily used as flavoring ingredients,
and the purpose of the CVV is for participants to purchase fruits
and vegetables to increase the number of these foods in their diets.
The decision about what to consider and herb or spice is one that
should be made by the State agency in consultation with their
n. Are platters containing a variety of
cut up fruit but no dips considered party trays?
FNS considers a party tray as a platter of fresh fruits and/or
vegetables (with or without dips) as something that is marketed as a
prepared party tray, meant to be purchased and served to a group of
people at a gathering or a party. Party trays are not allowed
to be purchased with the cash-value voucher.
*o. Can State agencies disallow
organic fruits and vegetables?
State agencies may not disallow organic fruits and vegetables
purchased with the cash-value voucher. The cash-value voucher
may be redeemed for any eligible fruit and vegetable (refer to Table
4 of §246.10(e)(12) of the interim rule and its footnotes)
within the types (fresh, frozen, canned and/or
dried) authorized by the State. States may not impose
further restrictions on eligible fruit and vegetables.
State agencies continue to have the
authority to disallow, for administrative purposes, organic forms of
WIC-eligible foods provided via the regular food instrument.
*p. If we choose to authorize canned
and/or frozen vegetables, must we identify all products in that
category that meet the requirements in the interim rule? We
would like to authorize the most commonly used and easily identified
canned and frozen products.
If the State agency chooses to authorize
either canned, frozen,
or dried fruits and vegetables, it must
authorize all eligible frozen, canned or dried
fruit and vegetables (refer to the Table 4 of §246.10(e)(12)
of the interim rule and its footnotes). The purpose is to offer a
wide variety of fruits and vegetables for participants to choose
from. However, vendors need not be expected to carry all
eligible fruits and vegetables. Thus, the State agency may
require only the most commonly used and easily identified canned,
frozen and/or dried products
when establishing the minimum variety and quantity standard
VI. MILK AND MILK ALTERNATIVES
a. Are lactose-reduced and lactose-free
milk allowed? Is medical documentation required for participants to
receive lactose-reduced and lactose-free milk?
These milks are allowed without medical documentation.
b. Are flavored soy-based beverages that
meet the nutrient standards allowed?
c. Are we allowed to provide low-fat milk
to a child who is between 13-23 months of age if medical
documentation is provided?
No. There is no provision in the rule allowing children between
the ages of 13-23 months of age to receive low-fat milk, even with
d. The interim rule states that
FNS is aware of at least one soy-based beverage in the marketplace
that meets the established nutrient standards. Can you tell us the
name of that product?
The Supplemental Food Programs Division (SFPD) has formally
products submitted by manufacturers and found them to be
eligible based upon the information submitted by the manufacturer.
Pacific’s Ultra Soy Plain and Ultra Soy Vanilla.
The manufacturer has noted that they have taken steps to make
these products available nationwide.
Kikkoman Pearl Organic Soymilk Smart
Creamy Vanilla and Kikkoman Pearl Organic Soymilk Smart
- A reformulated version of 8th Continent Soymilk
Original. The manufacturer has informed FNS that the
reformulated version of the product (which meets our
requirements) will be available on the West coast starting in
June 2009. This schedule will also apply to any key accounts in
the East who may need the product sooner than national launch.
The reformulated product will be available nationwide in August
We have also been informed of a
reformulated soy-based beverage from Driftwood Dairy in California
that is being made available through the National School Lunch
Program. However, this product has not been submitted to SFPD
by the manufacturer for review of eligibility for the WIC program.
State agencies should contact
manufacturers to determine which soy-based beverages that meet WIC’s
requirements are available. This is particularly important
since there could be a mixture of new and old versions of a product
on the market depending on location.
States are encouraged to continue to
dialog with Regional soy-based beverage producers about the
possibility of producing a WIC-eligible product for their Region.
State agencies that choose to offer soy-based beverages to their
participants are encouraged to implement their food packages in a
manner that does not preclude soy-based beverage when it becomes
more widely available (e.g., make the appropriate MIS changes, etc).
There has been no change in the nutrient requirements for any
WIC-authorized milks. All WIC-authorized milks must be pasteurized
and contain 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per quart of
whole milk and 400 IU of vitamin D plus 2000 IU of vitamin A per
quart of reduced-fat, low-fat, or fat-free milk. Vitamin A is
naturally found in the fat portion of milk, which is removed (all or
partially) during the production of reduced-fat, low-fat, and
fat-free milks. For this reason, Vitamin A fortification is required
for these milks, but not whole milk. The nutrient requirement
pertains to all authorized milks; for dried milk (i.e. powdered) and
evaporated milk, vitamin requirements are per reconstituted quart.
e. We cannot find a whole milk (fluid or
evaporated) that meets the new vitamin A requirement.
f. Is it allowable for State agencies to
make available only low-fat and fat-free types of milk for women and
children (2-4 years)? Do State agencies have to make
reduced-fat milk available to these participants if they request it?
FNS would support a State agency’s decision to offer only
low-fat and fat-free types of milk to women and children two through
four years of age. The State agency is not required to make other
types of milk available upon participants’ requests.
The Interim Rule specifies that
reduced-fat, low-fat, and fat-free milk are all authorized types of
milk for women and children two through four years of age. State
agencies decide which brands, types, and packaging of allowable
foods to include on their State WIC food lists. However,
States must make more than one type of milk available to
participants. More than one milk refers to any milk that meets
FDA’s standard of identity for milk (21 CFR part 131) and the
minimum specifications in Table 4 of §246.10(e)(12). Providing
low-fat and fat-free milks would meet this minimum specification.
FNS encourages State agencies to provide as much choice and variety
as possible to accommodate the diverse needs of WIC participants
(e.g., also offering low-fat lactose-free milk). The 2005
Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPyramid Food Guidance
System encourage the consumption of low-fat and fat-free milk as
part of an overall healthy diet. Consumption of low-fat and
fat-free milk in place of whole and even reduced-fat milk can help
participants two years and older meet dietary recommendations for
saturated fat intake and maintain a healthy body weight. With
the imminent changes to the food packages, FNS encourages State
agencies to consider how to assist WIC participants in switching
from whole milk to lower fat milks.
Information on nutrition education for
assisting participants in changing the type of milk consumed can be
found on WIC Works at
g. With the new rule, children and women
participants can receive up to one pound of cheese as a substitute
for milk. If we offer cheese, this will result in a "dangling quart"
for each of the food packages. Can State agencies drop the
No. The WIC benefit to participants is the full authorized
amount; therefore, State agencies may not "drop the dangling quart"
of milk. If a State agency chooses to offer cheese as a substitute
for 3 quarts of milk, then they must provide the remaining
quart of milk (or other authorized milk or milk alternative such as
dried milk, soy-based beverage, tofu, etc.) to fulfill the maximum
allowance in the food package. In addition, participants
should be provided nutrition education about the importance of milk
(and/or fluid milk alternatives), in the quantities provided by WIC,
in the participant’s diet.
The new foods and the new quantities of
food are intended to deliver priority nutrients to participants to
meet their supplemental nutrition needs; therefore, food packages
need to be offered in full and may not be categorically tailored as
in the past.
h. Is calcium chloride considered a
calcium salt? Products with calcium salts seem to contains less
calcium than those with calcium sulfate.
Yes, calcium chloride is considered a calcium salt.
Common types of calcium salts found in
Calcium sulfate (gypsum)
Even when these calcium salts are on the
ingredient list, the amount of calcium in tofu varies from brand to
brand and even within a brand, depending on the type of tofu
produced (firm, soft, etc.)
In choosing the brands and types of
calcium-set tofu to include on a State food list, read the label to
choose, if possible, the tofu with the highest amount of calcium.
The % Daily Value (DV) is a general guide to help determine if a
food is high or low in a nutrient—5% or less is low, 20% or more is
FNS has reviewed a number of tofu labels
and found that certain brands (Nasoya, White Wave, Soyboy) make a
variety of tofu with anywhere from 10-30% of the DV for calcium.
Note: Nigari (primarily consisting of
magnesium chloride) and gluconolactone are also used to process
tofu, but they are not sources of calcium. Without an added calcium
salt, these products have small or negligible amounts of calcium
and, therefore, are not authorized.
a. For children, the juice requirement is
128 ounces. Since 12-ounce frozen (48 ounces reconstituted) and 46
ounce cans of single strength juice do not divide evenly into 128
ounces, can a State agency round down?
The State agency must ensure that the maximum juice allowance is
provided. Therefore, they may not round up or round down. The State
agency must use the appropriate physical form to achieve the
Food Package IV: Two 64-ounce containers
single strength juice
Food Package V and VII: Three cans 11.5/12-ounce shelf stable or
frozen (48 ounces reconstituted)
Food Package VI: Two cans 11.5/12-ounce shelf stable or frozen (48
(See also XIV(c) under
b. How do we "use the appropriate physical
form to achieve the maximum" for homeless participants?
Section 246.10(b)(1)(ii) of the interim rule states that State
agencies must make food package adjustments to better accommodate
participants who are homeless. At the State agency's option, these
adjustments would include, but not be limited to, issuing authorized
supplemental foods in individual serving-size containers to
accommodate lack of food storage or preparation facilities.
State agencies must provide the regulatory
maximum amounts of juice. FNS has reviewed available container sizes
and finds a variety of single-serve juice bottles and cartons and
cans (e.g., 8, 10, and 12 fluid ounces), some available in
multi-packs, that are evenly divisible by the maximum allowances for
the food packages for children and women. The maximum monthly
allowance may be divided into smaller amounts and issued via
multiple food instruments when feasible. Where appropriate, food
packages may be individually tailored to meet the homeless
c. Do State agencies still have to submit
a request to FNS to authorize issuance of calcium-fortified juice?
No. Calcium-fortified juice is authorized at the State agency’s
option without prior approval.
VIII. CANNED FISH
a. Is Jack mackerel WIC-eligible
No. Jack mackerel is the scientific common name for Trachurus
symmetricus; a number of other species are also commonly called Jack
mackerel. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Jack
mackerel is distinct from the two mackerel species—Chub Pacific (Scomber
japonicus) and N. Atlantic (Scomber scombrus) that are authorized in
the interim rule.
The authorized mackerel species in the
interim rule were chosen because they are lower in mercury. FDA has
recently advised FNS that they do not have information on the
mercury content of Jack mackerel; therefore, Jack mackerel cannot be
authorized as a WIC-eligible canned fish.
b. We find salmon and other canned fish in
14.75 ounce cans. Can we authorize two of those cans since they come
close to the 30 ounce maximum for canned fish
No. State agencies must make available to participants the
maximum monthly allowances of authorized supplemental foods. The
State agency must use the appropriate physical form to achieve the
maximum. (See also XIV(c) under Miscellaneous)
Five 6-ounce cans salmon
Four 3.75-ounce cans sardines plus one 15-ounce can salmon+
Four 7.5-ounce cans salmon
Three 9 ounce cans tuna plus one 3 ounce can tuna
+State agencies are
reminded that the FDA/EPA consumer advisory on fish consumption
recommends that breastfeeding women limit fish consumption to
12-ounces per week.
c. Are canned sardines with tomato sauce
or mustard allowed? What about canned sardines or other fish with
flavoring, e.g., chili oil, lemon, or smoked?Canned sardines and
other fish with added sauces and flavorings are authorized at the
State agency’s option.
a. Are canned refried beans allowed?
Yes, but only those without added sugars, fats, oil or meat as
purchased are allowed.
b. Some canned beans, such as kidney beans
have some sugar added during processing. Are these allowable
foods under the "no added sugar" restriction? It has come to the attention of the Food and Nutrition
Service that the requirement for "no added sugar" in canned beans
may exclude some commonly consumed beans from WIC State food lists.
We have learned from the Food and Drug Administration that small
amounts of sugar are added to some foods that are naturally
sugar-containing during the canning process to prevent stress
resulting in membrane rupture (i.e., kidney beans). This small
amount of added sugar is minimal and helps to maintain the quality
and structure of the food. To encourage greater variety in
food choices in the WIC food packages, canned beans that contain a
small amount of sugar for processing purposes, such as canned kidney
beans, will be allowed.
The State agency should first determine how many types of grains
will be offered on their food lists—at least half must be whole
grain. Different varieties/flavors of the same cereal could be
offered, and counted separately, if they individually meet the
nutrition/wholegrain requirements, but remember that the purpose is
to offer a wide variety of grains. Different store brands of the
same cereal, however, would count as one cereal.
a. How do we count and consider the number
of whole grain cereals versus total cereals? For different flavors
of the same cereal, i.e., Honey Bunches of Oats, there are four
flavors or varieties of this cereal - Honey Roasted, Almonds,
Cinnamon and Vanilla. Is this counted as one or four?
b. At one time, FNS allowed
"grandfathering" of cereals in the WIC Program. Are State
agencies allowed to continue this practice?
WIC Policy Memorandum #95-13 dated April 4, 1995, allowed
"grandfathering" of cereals. At that time, grandfathering was
allowed to accommodate the difference in the reported nutrient
amounts using the old labeling system. It is possible that
some, if not all, of these cereals have been reformulated since that
time. State agencies must reevaluate each cereal to determine
if it meets the minimum Federal requirements by requesting
manufacturer-provided information that verifies that the cereal
meets the WIC minimum Federal requirements for sugar and iron per
100 grams of dry cereal. If a cereal which was previously
approved no longer meets the minimum Federal requirements, it cannot
be added to the State agency’s food list.
c. When we use the WIC Worksheet for
Determining Iron and Sugar Requirements for Cereals we get iron
and sugar amounts that are different from what the product
manufacturer provides. Can the amount of iron and sugar be
It has come to our attention that State agencies attempting to
use the % Daily Value (DV) on the Nutrition Facts panel to calculate
the amount of iron and sugar in cereals are getting values that are
inconsistent with iron and sugar amounts provided by manufacturers.
The Food and Drug Administration permits manufacturers to apply
rounding in their calculation of %DVs for vitamins and minerals
listed on products’ Nutrition Facts panel. For instance,
nutrients that fall within 10-50% of the DV can be expressed to the
nearest 5% of the %DV.
Due to the rounding that may be applied to
the %DV, it is not possible to get an accurate and specific
calculation of the amount of iron in the cereal using information
from the Nutrition Facts panel. This could result in the
misidentification of cereals that do and do not meet WIC eligibility
criteria. Instead of trying to use the %DV to perform such
calculations, State agencies should request information from the
manufacturer specifying the iron and sugar content per 100 grams of
dry cereal when reviewing cereals for WIC-eligibility.
In addition, in determining
WIC-eligibility of whole grain cereals, the Whole Grains Calculator
on the WIC Works Resource System prompts users to obtain iron and
sugar amounts from product manufacturers.
d. FNS has issued product eligibility
letters in the past as verification that cereals do or do not meet
the minimum Federal requirements for WIC eligibility. How recent
must these eligibility letters be to provide valid verification for
WIC-eligibility of cereals?
Only cereal product eligibility letters issued by FNS since
October 1, 2007, can be used to verify WIC-eligibility of cereals
under the Food Package interim rule. Manufacturers periodically
reformulate their cereal products. To ensure that these
products still meet WIC minimum Federal requirements, State agencies
should request information from the manufacturer verifying the iron
and sugar content per 100 grams of dry cereal.
XI. BREAD AND WHOLE GRAINS
a. What are some of the ingredients that
are allowed for corn tortillas?
Corn tortillas made from ground masa flour (corn flour) using
traditional processing methods are WIC-eligible. Examples of primary
ingredients meeting the WIC-eligibility criteria include: whole
corn, corn (masa), whole ground corn, corn masa flour, masa harina,
and white corn flour.
b. Can oatmeal be issued as a cereal and
also as a whole grain option?
Yes, oatmeal may be issued as both a cereal and a whole grain.
The maximum allowances are different for oatmeal in the cereal
category versus the grain category; also, oatmeal provided in the
cereal category must meet the iron and sugar requirements.
c. Do State agencies have to offer bread
or can we choose to offer only the whole grain options?
State agencies must offer whole wheat or whole grain bread. It
is a State agency option to authorize the whole grain options.
d. Are whole grain rolls and buns allowed?Yes. As long as they meet the criteria for whole grain as
defined in the interim final rule, they may be authorized.
e. We found a
product called Thomas’ Mini Squares Bagelbread that has whole wheat
as the first ingredient and comes in 1 pound packages. Is it a
No, this product is not WIC-eligible. We confirmed
with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that Thomas’ Mini
Squares Bagelbread does not meet the standard of identity for whole
wheat bread. The whole wheat bread standard of identity
applies to sliced bread, buns, and rolls. Thomas’
identification of the product as "bagelbread" categorizes the
product as a bagel (not a bun, roll, or sliced bread) and as such is
not a whole wheat bread under the FDA standard of identity.
Are whole grain breads with added fruit,
nuts and seeds allowed in the WIC Program?
Yes, whole grain breads with added fruit, nuts, and seeds are
allowed provided they meet the minimum Federal requirements as
specified for whole grain bread under the interim rule. The
minimum Federal requirements for whole grain breads do not prohibit
the addition of fruit, nuts, and seeds. However, State
agencies are reminded that Section 246.10(b)(1)(i) of the interim
rule allows the State to establish criteria in addition to the
minimum Federal requirements for WIC supplemental foods; therefore
State agencies may choose to disallow whole grain breads with added
fruit, nuts, or seeds. State agencies are also reminded that
the Whole Grains Calculator on the WIC Works Resource System website
is a valuable tool designed to help State agencies determine WIC
eligibility of whole wheat and whole grain breads and cereals.
It can be found at:
XII. FOOD PACKAGES FOR INFANTS
a. Can tube-fed infants receiving a
standard infant formula in Food Package II receive additional
quantities of formula in lieu of complementary foods?
No. There is no provision that allows infants served by Food
Package II to receive additional amounts of infant formula in lieu
of complementary foods. However, infants served by Food Package III
who are greater than 6 months of age, and whose medical condition
prevents them from consuming complementary foods, may receive exempt
infant formula or WIC-eligible medical foods (but not standard
formula) at the same maximum monthly amount as infants 4-5 months
old of the same feeding option. This would be in lieu of receiving
b. Must the full nutrition benefit (FNB)
be provided to all infants receiving infant formula and exempt
Yes, State agencies must provide the FNB to all infants. This
includes contract as well as non-contract formulas (infant formula
and exempt infant formula). State agencies must issue these formulas
per the method (i.e., monthly issuance or use of Rounding
Methodology) that provides the FNB without exceeding the maximum
amounts for the physical form. It is the responsibility of the State
agency to determine which method (i.e., monthly issuance or use of
Rounding Methodology) it will use to provide the FNB without
exceeding the maximum monthly allowance for the WIC formulas
authorized on the State food list. The Rounding Methodology more
closely provides the FNB of formula to participants. WIC State
agencies serving less than 1,000 participants not covered by infant
formula bid solicitations must also provide the FNB to all infants
using either the monthly issuance or the rounding methodology.
Technical assistance for determining formula issuance is available
on the WIC Works Resource System Food Package pages at
. For partially breastfed infants, even those issued the "fully
formula" package, WIC staff are expected to tailor the amount of
infant formula based on the assessed needs of the breastfeeding
infant and provide the minimal amount of formula that meets but does
not exceed the infant’s nutritional needs. This is consistent with
FNS guidance "Providing Quality Nutrition Services in Implementing
the Breastfeeding Promotion and Support Requirements of the New WIC
Food Packages," dated May 20, 2009.
XIII. FOOD PACKAGE III FOR MEDICALLY FRAGILE PARTICIPANTS
Can participants receive both milk and
formula in Food Package III?Yes. Food package III is issued to women, children and
infants who have a documented qualifying medical condition that
requires use of a WIC formula/medical food because use of
conventional foods is precluded, restricted, or inadequate to
address their special nutritional needs. Other WIC foods, including
milk, may also be provided to an individual participant if medically
warranted and with medical documentation. State agencies do not have
the option to require participants to choose either milk or formula.
XIV. FOOD PACKAGES FOR THE BREASTFEEDING DYAD
The benefits of these food packages are lost if the dyad is issued
the fully formula food packages.
a. Can infant formula amounts in the fully
formula fed packages for infants who are "combo" feeding but require
more formula than is allowed under the partially breastfed infant
food packages be "tailored down" to meet the specific needs of the
Yes, WIC staff are expected to tailor the amount of infant
formula based on the assessed needs of the breastfeeding infant and
provide the minimal amount of formula that meets but does not exceed
the infant’s nutritional needs. The maximum monthly allowance is
The newly created food packages for
partially breastfed mothers and infants are designed to provide for
the supplemental nutrition needs of the breastfeeding dyad, provide
minimal formula supplementation to help mothers maintain milk
supply, and provide incentives for continued
State agencies should develop policies for
formula requests that encourage substantial and continued
breastfeeding when mothers do not fully breastfeed. With proper
support and counseling from WIC, the number of breastfeeding infants
receiving the fully formula fed food packages should be small.
b. For a partially breastfeeding mother of
twins--if both infants are receiving over the maximum allowed for a
partially breastfed infant, what package would the mother be
entitled to receive? If the infants are over 6 months of age,
would she get no food at all, even though she will still be
If the infants are under 6 months of age, the mother would
receive Food Package VI. If the infants are over 6 months of age,
the mother would not receive a food package. In that case, the
mother’s infants would be old enough to receive infant foods in
addition to receiving significant formula from WIC; therefore, it is
presumed she is minimally breastfeeding. If an assessment reveals
otherwise, and she qualifies for Food Package V, then her food
package can be switched and her infants provided the partially
breastfed infant food package.
c. What happens if one twin is getting
over the maximum formula allowed for a partially breastfed infant,
and the other infant is getting less than the maximum? Which
food package should the mother be issued?
The mother is issued Food Package V because one of her infants
qualifies to receive the partially breastfeeding package. The
partially breastfed food packages are designed to provide for the
supplemental nutrition needs of mothers who are feeding mostly
breastmilk to their infants and to provide incentives for continued
No. Food Package VII is issued to partially breastfeeding
mothers who are breastfeeding multiple infants from the same
pregnancy and whose infants receive formula from WIC in amounts that
do not exceed the maximum formula allowance for partially breastfed
infants. The Institute of Medicine recommended that these women be
provided Food Package VII to meet their higher nutrient needs.
d. In issuing Food Package VII, would
"breastfeeding multiples" apply to a mother who is tandem nursing a
2 month old and an 11 month old?
e. A woman
who is partially ("minimally") breastfeeding and whose infants
greater than 6 months of age receive formula from WIC in
amounts that exceed the maximum formula allowance for
partially breastfed infants do not receive a food package. However,
these women continue to count as breastfeeding women and receive
nutrition services. Can they participate in the Commodity
Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) while still being counted as a WIC
By law, a person cannot participate
simultaneously in both WIC and CSFP. Therefore, if an
individual is counted as a WIC participant, that individual cannot
also participate in CSFP. This is true for the "minimally
breastfeeding" woman who is greater than 6 months postpartum but is
not receiving a food package, as well as a fully breastfed infant
less than 6 months of age (of a participating breastfeeding woman)
who is not receiving a food package from WIC.
*f. Can a
"minimally breastfeeding" woman not receiving a WIC food package be
issued Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons?
Current WIC regulations require State agencies to make
available at least one food from each food category. This
provision was to ensure that all food categories were offered, i.e.,
a State couldn’t decide not to offer milk. The interim rule
requires that State agencies make available to participants more
than one food from each food category. The purpose of this
provision is to implement the IOM’s recommendation that State
agencies allow as much variety and choice from the authorized foods
as is feasible considering cost constraints and availability.
Providing more variety and choice will accommodate the diverse needs
of WIC participants, including different ethnic or cultural needs.
The provision should not be interpreted to mean that State
agencies should limit the number of foods within a category.
a. 246.10(b)(2)(B) states "Make available
to participants more than one food from each WIC food category
except for the categories of peanut butter and eggs, and any of the
WIC-eligible fruits and vegetables (fresh or processed) in each
authorized food package as listed in paragraph (e) of this section."
What is the purpose of this provision?
Yes, this continues to be a State agency option.
b. Are artificial sweeteners allowed?
c. Can State agencies authorize package
sizes that do not evenly divide into the maximum allowance?State agencies must authorize container sizes that
provide the full maximum monthly allowances of authorized
supplemental foods on the State food list. The only exception is for
an infant food or formula since rounding up is authorized in order
to provide the full nutritional benefit for infants. However, in
order to provide variety and choice FNS will allow State agencies
the option to also authorize package sizes that provide less than
the maximum allowance provided the nutritional integrity of the food
package is not compromised. For example, a 15.5-ounce can of
beans can be authorized as long as the State agency also authorizes
a 16-ounce can that provides the maximum. It would not be
appropriate to allow a 46 or 48-ounce container of juice as an
option for the 64-ounce container of juice for a child. At least one
package size (or combination of sizes) must add up to the full
maximum monthly allowance that participants are authorized to
receive. The choice to achieve the full maximum allowance must
be made available to participants and local agencies must provide
appropriate education to participants about how to obtain their full
food package benefit.
d. How should container sizes be specified
on the food instrument?
The food instrument must specify the container size, e.g., 2-
64-ounce containers of juice or 3- 11.5 or 12 ounce containers juice
concentrate. If a range of sizes are authorized, specify the
range on the food instrument, e.g., 16-18 ounces peanut butter.
For cereal, a State agency may use language it currently uses on its
food instrument, e.g., 36 ounces, or not to exceed 36 ounces, or up
to 36 ounces. Educational materials should demonstrate to
participants how to obtain their full food package benefit. Vendor
minimum stock and training materials should also be developed in a
way that enables the participant to obtain the full benefit.
pro-rate food items, including the Cash-Value Voucher?
State agencies may continue to pro-rate foods
except single item foods such as bread or other whole grain options,
peanut butter or beans (dry or canned), and the cash-value voucher.
The exception to the single food item is eggs because they are
available in ½ dozen cartons. The full value of the cash-value
voucher must be provided.
- Under the interim rule, the maximum allowance of whole
wheat/grain bread or other whole grain options in Food Package
IV for children is two pounds. State agencies may pro-rate to
one pound for this food package.
- Under the interim rule, both food Package V (pregnant and
partially breastfeeding women) and Food Package VII (fully
breastfeeding women) provide 1 pound of beans and 18
ounces of peanut butter. State agencies may pro-rate these
items by offering the woman the opportunity to choose either the
beans or the peanut butter. The food instrument could read
"18 ounces of peanut butter or 1 pound of beans." State
agencies may not pro-rate these items by specifying only "1
pound beans" or only "18 ounces peanut butter" on the food
f. How do we offer 1.5 times the maximum
allowance of authorized foods for women in Food Package VII who are
fully breastfeeding multiple infants from the same pregnancy?
Some foods do not lend themselves easily to the provision of
"halves," e.g., bread, peanut butter, dried beans, cheese.
For women fully breastfeeding multiples only,
State agencies are allowed to issue foods in Food Package VII in
amounts averaged over a 2-month timeframe. This will
eliminate concern about providing "half" of a food package. It is up
to the State agency how to do this, but it shouldn’t be complicated,
i.e., the State agency would issue double the "regular" fully
breastfeeding package one month and the "regular" fully
breastfeeding package the next month.
g. Can State agencies substitute
peanut butter for eggs for homeless packages? If so, what
substitution rate should be used? (Revised answer)
Section 246.10(b)(1)(ii) of the WIC regulations allows State
agencies to make food package adjustments to better accommodate
participants who are homeless. At the State agency’s option, these
adjustments would include, but not be limited to, issuing authorized
supplemental foods in individual serving-size containers to
accommodate lack of food storage or preparation facilities.
This has not changed from previous WIC regulations.
As general guidance, the State agency may
issue 64 ounces of canned beans as a substitute for 1 dozen eggs for
homeless participants. In lieu of canned beans, 18 ounces of
peanut butter may be substituted for 1 dozen eggs.
Combinations of peanut butter and canned beans may be issued.
As a reminder, the interim rule allows hard boiled eggs, where
readily available for purchase in small quantities, to be issued to
participants with limited cooking facilities.
Providing additional legumes or peanut
butter as a substitute for eggs may significantly increase the
amount of these foods participants receive. In issuing
additional quantities of beans or peanut butter, State agencies
should assess the amount of these food items participants would
reasonably consume in a month’s time.
State agencies may aggregate WIC supplemental food amounts for
families. However, State agencies may not authorize container
sizes that exceed the monthly maximum allowance for an individual.
It is important that the foods on the State authorized food list
meet the needs of the individual food package prescription.
Federal regulations require that local agencies advise participants
or their caretakers, when appropriate, that the supplemental foods
are only for their personal use. This information would be an
important component of nutrition education for agencies that
aggregate food benefits.
h. Can State agencies aggregate foods for
families and thereby authorize container sizes larger than the
maximum allowance for an individual participant?
May State agencies authorize WIC foods in
a general manner, without specifying brands and types? For
example, may State agencies simply state on the food card "100%
whole wheat bread" or whole grain breads with "whole grain listed on
label as first ingredient" and then allow participants to go to the
store and review food labels and choose the specific brands/types
they want to purchase?
Section 246.10(b)(2)(i) of the interim rule requires State
agencies to "identify the brands of foods and package sizes that are
acceptable for use in the Program in their States." It is the
responsibility of WIC State agencies to determine WIC eligibility of
whole grain breads and other WIC foods" in accordance with Table 4
of §246.10(e)(12) and its footnotes)--Minimum Requirements and
Specifications for Supplemental Foods. It is also the
responsibility of State agencies to maintain a list of all
WIC-eligible foods it authorizes for participants.
State agencies must ensure that WIC foods
purchased by participants are eligible and authorized. Making
the participant or vendor responsible for these determinations will
likely lead to confusion and frustration on the part of participants
and vendors. Product labeling is not always consistent and
participants might choose foods that do not meet WIC eligibility
FNS realizes that food cards for
participants have space limitations that may preclude listing all
possible authorized foods. At a minimum, the following foods
must be identified by brand, type and size on the food
cards/materials for participants and vendors:
If a State agency has already printed a
food card without specifying the brand, type and size of the foods
mentioned above, they should use whatever process they currently do
to inform participants/vendors of a change in the foods listed on
the food card until the next time the food card is printed.
For breads and cereals, the Whole Grains
Calculator on the WIC Works Resource System website is a valuable
tool designed to help State agencies determine WIC eligibility of
whole wheat and whole grain breads and cereals. It can be
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