Published: January 2023

Journal: Nutrients

Authors: Zhang Q, Patel P, Lowery CM

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The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is now expected to allow participants to redeem their food benefits online, i.e., via online ordering, rather than only in-store. However, it is unclear how this new benefit redemption model may impact participants’ welfare since vendors may have an asymmetric information advantage compared with WIC customers. The WIC online ordering environment may also change the landscape for WIC vendors, which will eventually affect WIC participants. To protect WIC consumers’ rights in the new online ordering model, policymakers need an appropriate legal and regulatory framework. This narrative review provides that framework by reviewing the literature, legal treatises, and reports on enforceable laws and regulations in the U.S. relevant to digital marketing. The results identify key issues that may arise with adopting WIC online ordering. This paper suggests “privacy, transparency, and fairness” as guiding principles to protect the welfare of WIC participants in WIC online ordering.

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