A reader asked me to find out the scoop as to why WIC (not food stamps)
does not allow Organic food to be purchased by its participants. Here is
an answer with supporting info from the National program.  This is the
response from Ruth Blackburn: Farm to School Project Coordinator.


Having worked with WIC in the past perhaps I can clarify the problem.
WIC, unlike food stamps, is not based on a debit card that allows for a
variety of food purchases.  WIC specifies the foods that may be
purchased and often specifies by brand especially with cereal in order
to try to hold costs more steady (this has its own set of problems and
politics that could be addressed at another time).  Here are the
national guidelines: 


As you can see they are broad for most categories.  Since the money
comes to the states in lump sums, each state can then place limits on
the specific food items that can be allowed.  In Michigan, authorities
decided that one way to reduce individual costs and thus serve more
people is to restrict the purchase of organics.  The problem is that in
season and in some stores the organic products are less expensive and
thus should not be restricted just because they are organic.


Diane provided good examples of this with carrots.  Florida also
restricts organics but they also state that the participant must
purchase the least expensive item in the category:


I believe that this should be the only restriction because that is
really the point.  If each participant chooses the least expensive item,
the goal of cost containment to spread the dollars to the most people
possible is achieved.  I believe this is the point we need to make with
the state WIC authorities.  Restricting organic makes no sense in that


Ruth Blackburn, MPH, RD

Farm to School Project Coordinator


Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP)

phone: 734.222.3817

fax: 734.222.3990



Fowarded by :

Vicki Morrone

Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist

Michigan State University

C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems

303 Natural Resources Bldg.

East Lansing, MI 48824


517-282-3557 (cell)

517-353-3834 (fax)

For information on organic agriculture production please visit:

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