Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a great and widely used government program that has been providing families with assistance for adequate nutrition for decades. The program includes key items — such as milk, cheese, fruits and vegetables, eggs, juice, peanut butter, formula, some legumes, and more — but has long had few options as far as organic baby food is concerned. Now, organic baby food options for WIC-eligible families are expanding, and it's a huge deal.
Happy Family Organics announced this week that it gained approval in three new states to make its Happy Baby Clearly Crafted Jars available to babies born into families who qualify for WIC. In a press release, the company revealed that only 15 states in the country accept organic baby food, which more and more parents are turning to in an effort to avoid pesticide laden foods, for families who use WIC.
Nearly 2 million babies are born into WIC families, according to Happy Family Organics, and many don't have the option to choose organic baby foods when shopping under the program's guidelines. That's concerning when you consider the EWG's Dirty Dozen report, which found that almost 70 percent of conventional produce sold in the United States contains pesticide residues.
Only 11 states have approved the brand's particular organic food, Happy Family Organics said in the release, but that's a major increase from where they started. According to the company, California, Maine, and Colorado are the latest states to approve its Clearly Crafted Jars.
California and Maine will begin accepting the food in early April, while Colorado will follow suit in May, the company said.
CEO Anne Laraway told Romper said in a statement that Happy Family Organics believes "all children should have access to nutritious foods."
"We learned from engaging with WIC-eligible moms that they want the same options that all moms have, including organic baby food, so we created Happy Baby® Clearly Crafted™ Jars to serve these families," Laraway added. "Since the jars launched last summer, we’ve worked tirelessly to get more states to approve organic baby foods, and we’re delighted that in addition to the 8 states we are currently redeemable in, California (the largest WIC state), Maine, and Colorado have all approved the Happy Baby® Clearly Crafted™ Jars."
Laraway also said that by May 1, the company's jars will be "redeemable" for 84 percent of WIC participants who live in states that approve organic baby foods through the program. "And we’re not stopping there,” Laraway said.
The company created the jars with the intention of serving WIC-eligible families, according to Food Navigator. Laraway told the outlet that WIC will not cover the cost of pouched baby food because it's considered "too premium" or "excessively expensive," but providing this option for families was important for them to do.
"A big thing for us is that all millennial moms, no matter whether they qualify for WIC or not, want variety," Laraway told Food Navigator. "They want the top quality organic products. And we felt there was really a need for us to join this, and to be part of giving these moms what they are really looking for in the baby food category."
Whether or not families qualify for WIC, every parent can agree that they want to provide their child with healthy, clean food. And it's no secret that organic food can be pricier, so program like WIC are certainly helpful. If you're curious if you and your family qualify for WIC, you can use the WIC prescreening Tool to see if you might be eligible for the program's benefits.
Happy Family is making serious strides in making organic food accessible to all families. It's a mission a lot of companies talk about, but not many actually act on. And hopefully, one day, all WIC programs across the country will welcome organic baby food options.