New policy brief shows more veggies and fruits for WIC families is a win for California and the nation

Dec 6, 2021

Researchers at Public Health Foundation Enterprise-WIC in partnership with the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute released a policy brief showing results of an increase in over $50 million across California on fruits and vegetables purchased by California families enrolled in WIC from June-September 2021. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a USDA-funded program that provides healthy foods to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5. The vegetables and fruits in the WIC food package are issued as a “Cash Value Benefit” (CVB), enabling families to buy a variety of vegetables or fruits up to the CVB amount. CVB amounts for all women and children on WIC were raised to $35 per month from the usual $9 or $11 from June-September 2021 with funding from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. Congressional appropriations have enabled monthly CVB amounts to continue at $24 for all children and $43 or $47 for women, depending on their pregnant or lactating status, through March 31, 2022. NPI and PHFE-WIC researchers showed that nearly all of 1,673 Southern California WIC participants in surveyed reported the $9 value to be insufficient, whereas over three-quarters reported the $35 value to be just right. This project was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research Program.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist