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USDA Finalizes WIC Changes

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BOZEMAN -

The U.S. Department of Agriculture finalizes changes to the special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Friday.

But it could take a year before the changes are implemented in Montana.

The changes increase access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy.

This is the first time the USDA has made significant changes to the program since 1980.

The USDA is going to spend 30 percent more for children's fruit and vegetable purchases, expand whole grain options, provide yogurt as a partial milk substitute and allow parents of older infants to buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of jarred.

Montana Department of Health And Human Services spokesman Jon Ebelt said it could be awhile before these changes are made in Montana.

"We actually have until April 2015 to implement those changes so in the coming weeks and months we will be looking at the new rules," said Ebelt.

Until then, he said he's not sure how this would affect people in the program.

"Until we get a real close look at those changes and how those impacts will be but right now we just haven't had time to do that," said Ebelt.

He said no matter what the changes are, the program is still there for those who need it.

"It provides a great service for thousands of Montanans and it will continue to do that. These changes won't change that," said Ebelt.

The WIC program is to help the nation's low-income pregnant women, new mothers and their children so they get the nutrition they need.

More than eight point five million people across the country receive WIC benefits every month.

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