Study supports an increase in WIC Cash Value Benefit by identifying an impact on the amount and diversity of fruits and vegetables redeemed

Jul 3, 2024

Children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—commonly known as WIC—are at nutritional risk and need essential nutrients from fruits and vegetables to support development. The WIC food package includes a monthly Cash Value Benefit for purchasing fruits and vegetables. A  study in Los Angeles analyzed the impact of increasing the Cash Value Benefit on the amount and diversity of fruits and vegetables purchased by WIC participants. The Cash Value Benefit was raised from $9 to $35 per month and then adjusted to $24. Survey and redemption data from caregivers representing 1,463 WIC children showed that the diversity of fruits and vegetables redeemed increased significantly when the Cash Value Benefit increased. Although the study did not find a direct link between fruit and vegetable diversity and overall consumption, a diverse diet promotes adequate development and long-term health. The study was published online in Current Developments in Nutrition, and co-authored by Alana Chaney, Gayathri Pundi and Lauren Au of the University of California, Davis Department of Nutrition, Christopher Anderson and Shannon E Whaley of Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC, Lorrene Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cassandra Nguyen from UC Cooperative Extension at UC Davis. This study was supported by the UC Davis Public Impact Research Initiative, US Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Project# CA-D-NTR-2689-H, Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, round 12, grant number 77239, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, grant number 2020-70267 and the University of California Office of the President Historically Black Colleges and Universities Fellowship.

By Jean Aquino
By Danielle Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Lauren Au
By Alana Chaney
By Lorrene D Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist