National Food Program Improves Access to Fruits and Vegetables

PITTSBURGH – December 6, 2007 – Today’s historic decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to encourage moms and their children to eat more fruits and vegetables – in all forms – demonstrates growing support for the benefits of canned foods and their contribution to the American diet.  The Canned Food Alliance (CFA) commends the USDA for recognizing the importance that canned foods play in providing nutrition to American families through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which serves millions of low-income mothers and children across the country. 

The changes (reflected in federal regulations published today) ensure that a wide choice for fruits and vegetables is included in food packages for women and children.  Participants will receive a monthly allotment for the purchase of fruits and vegetables in a variety of forms – canned, fresh and frozen.  This is the first time in 30 years that the food packages include an emphasis on fruits and vegetables.   

In addition to adding canned fruits and vegetables, the ruling now allows specific types of canned beans and peas as a substitution for dry, mature beans and peas.  Canned light tuna will continue to be allowed and the new regulations include a variety of other canned fish as approved alternatives.

“Today’s ruling is an important step in helping WIC moms and children meet key nutritional requirements through the promotion of all forms of fruits and vegetables,” said Rich Tavoletti, executive director of the Canned Food Alliance.  “Not only will this important population be able to eat more fruits and vegetables, but they will also be able to select the forms they prefer and that work best for their families.  We applaud the USDA for recognizing that canned foods play an important role in helping women and children get the nutrition they need.  Canned food makes healthful eating easy and accessible for everyone, everywhere, every day.”

The CFA will continue to work with states to ensure that they provide moms and kids with flexibility and options to select canned foods as part of these new food packages, by reminding the public that canned foods play a significant role in helping women, children and all family members meet MyPyramid’s recommendations, as advised by the USDA.

About the WIC Program

WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education and referrals to health and other social services to participants at no charge.  WIC serves about eight million people each month including low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk.  The majority of participants are children and infants.  WIC is administered through federal grants to states; 2007 grants totaled over $5.5 billion.     

About the Canned Food Alliance

The Canned Food Alliance is a partnership of the American Iron and Steel Institute’s Steel Packaging Council, the Can Manufacturers Institute, select food processors and affiliate members.  The primary mission of the CFA is to serve as a resource for information on the nutrition, convenience, contemporary appeal and versatility of canned food.  The CFA is a proud supporter of the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Fruits and Veggies – More Matters program.  

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