Published: January 2023

ID #: CAS072

Journal: Nutrients

Authors: Zhang Q, Zhang J, Park K, Tang C

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The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening the disparities in food access in the United States. As consumers have been increasingly using grocery online ordering services to limit their exposure to the COVID-19 virus, participants of federal nutrition assistance programs lack the online benefit redemption option. With the support of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), retailers are pilot-testing online food benefit ordering in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). By combining the Oklahoma WIC administrative data, the online ordering data from a grocery store chain in Oklahoma, and the COVID-19 data in Oklahoma, this study examines how WIC participants responded to the online food benefit ordering option and how their adoption of online ordering was associated with the COVID-19 incidence. Results show that from July to December 2020, 15,171 WIC households redeemed WIC benefits at an Oklahoma chain store, but only 819 of them adopted online ordering. They together completed 102,227 online orders, which accounted for 2.7% of the store visits and 2.6% of the monetary value of WIC redemptions at these stores. There was no significant relationship between WIC online ordering adoption and COVID-19 incidence in Oklahoma.

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