Published: October 2023

ID #: 77239

Journal: J Acad Nutr Diet

Authors: Whaley SE, Anderson CE, Tsai MM, Yepez CE, Ritchie LD, Au LE

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The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a critical source of nutrition support for young children in low-income families, providing access to healthy foods and a cash value benefit (CVB) for the purchase of fruits and vegetables (FV). In 2021, the WIC CVB increased substantially for women and children aged 1 to 5 years. This study aimed to investigate whether or not the increased WIC CVB for purchasing FV was associated with greater redemption of the FV benefit, satisfaction, household food security, and child FV intake. This was a longitudinal study of WIC participants receiving WIC benefits from May 2021 through May 2022. Through May 2021, the WIC CVB for children aged 1 to 4 years was $9/month. The value increased to $35/month from June through September 2021, and changed to $24/month starting October 2021. Participants were WIC participants from seven WIC sites in California with one or more child aged 1 to 4 years during May 2021 and one or more follow-up surveys during September 2021 or May 2022 (N = 1,770). The increased CVB was associated with significantly greater redemption and satisfaction. At the second follow-up (May 2022), household food security increased by 10%; total FV intake decreased by 0.03 c/day in the overall sample, but increased by 0.23 c/day among children with the lowest baseline FV intake. This study documented benefits of augmentation to the CVB for children. WIC policy augmenting the value of WIC food packages to increase access to FV had the intended effects, lending support to making the increased FV benefit permanent.

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