Providing WIC families with more money to buy fruits and vegetables should be continued

Jun 7, 2023

A recent study conducted in California examined the impact of increased cash value benefits to purchase fruits and vegetables in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, which focused on 1,700 families with low-income who had children aged 1-4, found that the increased benefits improved household food security, increased child fruit and vegetable consumption among children with inadequate intakes, and enhanced satisfaction with the cash value benefit amount. Before the pandemic, WIC families received only $9 to purchase fruits and vegetables for children, which provided less than one-fifth of the recommended amounts for this age group. The cash value benefit for children was temporarily increased to $35 per month from May to September 2021 and to $24 per month starting in October 2021. The study findings support continuation of the increased cash value benefit to support the nutrition and health of vulnerable young children. The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Authors include Shannon E. Whaley, Christopher Anderson and Catherine Yepez from the Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC, Marisa Tsai and Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Lauren Au from UC Davis Department of Nutrition. The research was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

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