Revised Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Food Packages

Categories

Categories associated with best practice:

  • Health Equity
  • PP-icon1
  • Societal
  • Infancy (ages 0-2) icon
  • Early Childhood (ages 3-5) icon
  • Young Adult (ages 19-24) icon
  • Adult (ages 25-64) icon
  • Community/ Neighbourhood
  • Female
  • Food Security
  • Healthy Eating
  • Obesity Prevention

Overview

The WIC (1974; piloted in 1972) is a U.S. federal program that provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five. In October 2009, the WIC was revised to better reflect dietary recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and promote healthier weights. The main changes included the provision of cash-value vouchers for fruits and vegetables, new whole-grain products,
lower fat content of dairy foods, and reduced juice quantities.
A healthy food supply score (availability, price, and variety in a store) was used to measure access to healthier foods (food environment) before (March-June 2009) and after (April-June 2010) implemention in 33 WIC-authorized and 219 non-WIC convenience and non-chain grocery stores in Connecticut. The increase in the healthy food supply score was 16% in WIC‐authorized stores in higher-income neighbourhoods and 39% in lower‐income areas, which suggests that the gap in access to healthier foods between higher- and lower-income areas had narrowed (but not been eliminated). A smaller degree of increase (4%) was found in non-WIC stores. Whole grains foods were responsible for most of the increases in healthy food supply score. These findings suggest that the WIC revisions, which were designed to be cost-neutral, improved access to healthy foods for WIC participants.

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