Aligning nutrition assistance programs with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans


Correspondence: AL Yaktine, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, The National Academies, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA. E-mail: Phone: +1-202-334-1380. Fax: +1-202-334-2316.


Nutrition assistance programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (NSLP/SBP), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), are intended to offer low-income families the opportunity for a healthier food pattern that promotes overall health and reduces risk for chronic disease. To be successful in improving the diets of underserved Americans requires a unified approach toward meeting the nutritional needs of program participants. Newly revised recommendations increase intakes of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain-rich foods while reducing consumption of saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium. In addition to improving the nutritional profile of meals and snacks for NSLP and CACFP and meal patterns for WIC, the new recommendations ensure variety within food groups for menus across a week and allow for regional and cultural preferences and increased flexibility of choice within food groups. The newly revised meal pattern recommendations are broadly applicable to the design of feeding programs for any age group and for any combination of meals and snacks being provided.