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The Department of Agriculture announced this week that major changes to the Women, Infants and Children food packages would soon be going into effect.

The changes to WIC include an increase in the amount of vegetables and the addition of fruits to the approved items, while reducing the amounts of milk, cheese and eggs that can be purchased.

According to Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the changes were meant to bring the WIC food package more in line with the recommendations in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

It also better reflects the infant feeding guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The addition of these foods better reflect the needs of over 8 million low-income mothers and children in the WIC program,” said Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner in a statement picked up by The Associated Press. The changes, he said, will “greatly improve dietary quality.”

In making the changes, the department insisted that the revisions be made without increasing costs, the AP reported. The addition of fruits, vegetables and soy products were offset by reductions in the egg and dairy allotment.

When asked how the new changes to WIC would affect military recipients, the WIC Overseas office in Naples, Italy, declined to comment.

These are the first major changes to the WIC program in 30 years.

According to the Food & Nutrition Service Web site, the new food packages are due to be phased in over an 18-month time frame beginning in February 2008. This gives individual states the ability to tailor their programs to assure availability of the various food products, the site says.

While each state administers its own WIC program with federal guidelines, WIC Overseas is administered through the Department of Defense.

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