The food retail environment has been directly linked to disparities in dietary behaviors and may in part explain racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, is associated with improved healthy food and beverage access due to its requirement for minimum stock of healthy foods and beverages in WIC-eligible stores. The selection and authorization criteria used to authorize WIC vendors varies widely from state to state with little known about the specific variations. This paper reviews and summarizes the differences across 16 of these criteria enacted by 89 WIC administrative agencies: the 50 states, the District of Columbia, five US Territories, and 33 Indian Tribal Organizations. Vendor selection and authorization criteria varied across WIC agencies without any consistent pattern. The wide variations in criteria and policies raise questions about the rational for inconsistency. Some of these variations, in combination, may result in reduced access to WIC-approved foods and beverages by WIC participants. Results highlight an opportunity to convene WIC stakeholders to review variations, their rationale, and implications thereof especially as this process could result in improved policies to ensure and improve healthy food and beverage access by WIC participants.
Published: March 2021
Authors: Landry MJ, Phan K, McGuirt JT, et al.
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