California WIC participants and agency directors agree that COVID flexibilities be retained as program options going forward

Jun 17, 2021

Rich with quotes from California WIC participants and local agency directors, two new reports and a policy brief highlight the strong consensus that the waivers USDA put in place and the other modifications the state implemented to make WIC responsive to COVID should be incorporated as permanent options in the program. In light of Congress's imminent program reauthorization, these recommendations informed by research conducted by Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE)-WIC and the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), part of the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), take on special significance. Researchers collected information on the experiences with WIC during COVID from interviews with 182 WIC participants, 22 interviews with local WIC agency directors and refinement of interpretation from a meeting with 12 WIC agency directors, and finally, recommendations from multiple perspectives shared at a convening of over 20 local, state, and national WIC participants, experts and leaders. The research team included Lorrene Ritchie, Christina Hecht, Nicole Vital, Ron Strochlic, Marisa Tsai, Claudia Olague, Anna Rios, and Ken Hecht from NPI, Lauren Au from UC Davis Department of Nutrition, and Christopher Anderson, Catherine Martinez, Martha Meza and Shannon Whaley from PHFE-WIC. The project was funded by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation with additional funding from the California Department of Public Health WIC Branch