Got milk?: Legislation would allow more milk choices for WIC recipients
Politics, U.S. & World

Got milk?: Legislation would allow more milk choices for WIC recipients

Rebecca Barnabi
pouring a glass of milk
(© Thitiwut –

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia introduced legislation Friday to make it easier for expectant mothers and mothers of young children to access milk for their families.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) restricts milk choices to nonfat or 1% in most cases. Spanberger’s bipartisan bill would allow participants ages two and older to receive 2% reduced fat or whole milk. The change would provide infants, children and parents with more nutrients needed during key developmental stages.

Spanberger, the only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, leads the legislation with U.S. Rep. G.T. Thompson of Pennsylvania, chair of the committee.

“As a parent, I know that whole milk provides many of the essential vitamins and minerals that kids need for their early development. But for far too long, the WIC program has been blocked from providing moms with a full selection of milk,” Spanberger said. “That’s why I’m working to cut this unnecessary red tape and make more milk options available. By allowing WIC recipients to purchase whole milk, our bipartisan bill would make sure more children have access to the nutrients they need to grow up healthy and strong.”

In early 2023, Spanberger helped to introduce legislation to allow unflavored and flavored whole milk to be offered in Virginia’s school cafeterias.

“Whole milk has been wrongfully targeted as unhealthy for the last decade, but in reality, it provides a wealth of essential nutrients that are particularly important for growing children,” Thompson said. “Including whole milk in the WIC program will provide a healthy option for those families who find themselves depending upon these benefits for essential nutrition.”

Jim Mulhern is President & CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

“WIC is critical to ensuring that pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children can gain the nutrients they need for health and development. Milk provides 13 essential nutrients in a single serving, making it an affordable, effective nutrition powerhouse that promotes food security. Reduced-fat and whole milk are the most popular milk options in the U.S.; allowing these healthful, popular options to be purchased through WIC is a commonsense approach that both increases access and choice,” Mulhern said.

According to International Dairy Foods Association President & CEO Michael Dykes, millions of women and children rely on WIC for milk.

“In fact, milk is the single most commonly chosen item among WIC beneficiaries. Surprisingly, the current WIC program does not permit participants to select their preferred milk options, such as whole and 2% milk, resulting in significant participation challenges for state WIC programs. According to a 2023 IDFA-Morning Consult poll, a striking 34 percent of WIC participants favor whole milk, while 28 percent prefer 2% milk,” Dykes said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.