OLYMPIA – Washington State Department of Health (DOH) was recognized by the White House yesterday for the agency’s commitment to moving several plans forward for sustainable and equitable access to nutrition for all Washingtonians. The announcement was a part of President Biden’s White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. The conference announced the administration’s comprehensive strategy to address the needs of millions of Americans struggling with food insecurity and nutrition-related illnesses.
The package of new actions is based on five pillars. They include improved food access and affordability, integrated nutrition and health, empowerment of consumers to make and have access to healthy food choices, support of physical activity for all and enhanced nutrition and food security research.
Currently in development and in line with these pillars, DOH will launch an online ordering pilot in 2023 for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). For the first time in the program’s history, WIC participants will be able to shop online and select pick-up or delivery of their foods. This is a monumental step forward for those with limited transportation and access to nutritious foods.
In addition, DOH will also roll out a new program that enables WIC participants to spend their monthly fruit and vegetable cash value benefit at farmers markets and grocery stores. This change will make approximately $10 million of WIC cash value benefits available for redemption at farmers markets in 2023.
DOH also commits to transitioning fruit and vegetable prescriptions from a paper voucher to a card-based system, enabling more small businesses and grocers to access the program, and increasing access for those with transportation limits.
“This is a true example of how working together, on a state and federal level, we can bring equitable and sustainable health to all, beginning with the foundation of nutrition,” said Secretary of Health, Dr. Umair A. Shah.
These commitments are all tied into the DOH Transformational Plan: A Vision for Health in Washington State, which focuses on a commitment to health and wellness. DOH’s cornerstone values of equity, innovation, and engagement continue to be key drivers for a healthier future.