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NEWARK, DEL. - The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) here recently submitted recommendations to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it said would further strengthen the agency's proposed rule for "Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC): Revisions in the WIC Food Packages."
The program, which has not been revised in decades, provides supplemental nutrition to program participants. In its comments, PMA applauded the USDA for its "strong recommendations that bring the program more in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by including a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables for all participants."
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PMA's recommendations to the program include:
-- Increasing the cash-value voucher for fruits and vegetables to $10 a month for mothers and $8 a month for children to help recipients get at least one more serving of fruits or vegetables each day. The USDA proposal only recommends vouchers of $8 for mothers and $6 for children.
-- Including all fresh fruits and vegetables in the program to provide a full range of nutritious choices as well as cultural/personal flexibility for recipients.
-- Urging state/local WIC agencies to use their nutrition education activities to emphasize increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
"Every produce company throughout the distribution chain should encourage its employees to support the proposal and write USDA urging the three proposed enhancements by Nov. 6," said Kathy Means, PMA's v.p. of government relations. "This proposal can mean hundreds of millions of dollars in sales to the produce industry. And because produce is a high-profit item in stores, it means even more to retailers. Because other food groups will be advocating for their products, which could reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables in the final rule, it's essential that everyone in produce industry take action right away," she noted.
Because industry comments are due to the USDA by Nov. 6, PMA is encouraging industry members to write USDA on the issue and voice their support for the revised WIC packages with these three additional recommendations. Industry members can visit the Advocacy Action Center's section for WIC, http://capwiz.com/producemarketing/go/WIC, to take action.