INFANT Act would expand food options available for purchase under the WIC program

Published: Feb. 20, 2021 at 8:27 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Across Alaska more than 15,000 people, including children, depend on the Women Infant and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program to stay nourished and healthy, but the current guidelines limit the number of foods eligible for purchase.

“Under the current regulations, organic is not allowed, and infant food combinations such as meat and vegetables are not allowed,” said Zoi Maroudas, owner of Bambino’s Baby Food.

Maroudas is working with Congressman Don Young on a bill called the Infants Need Food And Nutrition Today, or INFANT, Act. The INFANT act is aimed at expanding the options available for purchase under the WIC program. Maroudas says it’s especially important now as childhood obesity and food allergy rates are at an all-time high.

“For providing little ones with the right foods at the right time, you’re beating those odds,” said Maroudas. “What they eat in their first three years affects them in their thirties, forties, sixties and eighties. So it’s so important. Their immune system is growing, so you’re trying to help them prevent food allergies, so you’re introducing the right food at the right time to boost their immune system. It’s also their development stages for their brain, bone and muscle.”

It’s a nationwide issue that Maroudas says especially affects Alaskan children just based on where the state is located, and how we receive food from out of state.

“Right now, 100 percent of the WIC food supplements are imported from the Lower 48,” said Maroudas. “So in this case, we’re bringing in our Alaskan farmers, our wild sustainable seafood, and bringing it just from right outside out door, per se, to our families’ kitchen door.”

This is the second time the bill is being introduced. It was first introduced a year and a half ago. Maroudas hopes it will get more traction under the new administration.

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