According to the bipartisan joint letter addressed to Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, the proposed rule would "result in a substantial reduction in the maximum monthly allowance (MMA) for milk through the WIC program."
"The current MMA for children 12 to 23 months old is 16 quarts," the letter reads. "Under the proposed rule, this amount would be reduced to 12 quarts, a total monthly reduction of 4 quarts."
The statement went on to describe how the milk allotment would be reduced for toddlers aged 2-4 as well as pregnant or breastfeeding mothers as well.
"These substantial reductions in the amount of milk parents can buy for their children will exacerbate the crisis families are already facing with skyrocketing prices at the grocery store," the representatives wrote.
The Department of Agriculture announced the changes on November 22, stating that they would "reduce the amount of milk provided in all child, pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding participant food packages" and add "soy-based" yogurts and cheeses as "substitutions for milk."
"These science-based revisions incorporate recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025," the Department of Agriculture said of the changes.
"USDA is committed to advancing maternal and child health through WIC, helping mothers, babies and young kids thrive," said Vilsack at the time. "These proposed changes will strengthen WIC – already an incredibly powerful program – by ensuring it provides foods that reflect the latest nutrition science to support healthy eating and bright futures."
The letter continued, "The proposed rule includes a number of changes to the WIC food packages that will strengthen the program and support access to nutritious dairy products. We are encouraged that USDA has provided container size flexibility for WIC products, which will improve families’ food choices and increase access to certain foods, including dairy items," the letter concluded.
"However, these improvements to the WIC program are undermined by the overall reduction in the amount of milk available to WIC families. We strongly urge you to not reduce the amount of milk available to WIC families and to instead maintain the current WIC dairy allotments in the final rule," the letter concluded.
To qualify for the WIC program, the family's income must be below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $18,310 per year for a family of two. In their monthly allowance of food assistance, families typically get milk, breakfast cereal, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread, rice, peanut butter, tortillas, and canned fish.According to USDA, there are "more than 6 million moms, babies and young children" are on the federal nutrition program.
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