Increased Cash Value Benefit can increase the amount and diversity of fruits and vegetables redeemed by WIC participants

Aug 9, 2023

Recent research shows that increased Cash Value Benefit amounts for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—commonly known as WIC—to purchase fruits and vegetables was associated with greater amounts and variety of fruits and vegetables purchased. The US Department of Agriculture's response to the COVID-19 pandemic increased the Cash Value Benefit for children from $9 per month to $25 per month, effective until September 30, 2023. The Cash Value Benefit will revert to a lower amount without Congressional action. Analyzing purchasing data for 1,578 families with 1,770 children participating in WIC in Los Angeles County, the study found significant increases in amounts purchased for 53 of 54 evaluated fruits and vegetables, and significant increases in diversity of purchased fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and total fresh produce following the increase to the Cash Value Benefit. Findings are important as expanding fruit and vegetable variety in children's diets improves diet quality and acceptance of fruits and vegetables, which is foundational for lifelong healthy eating habits. Results support the continuation of the increased Cash Value Benefit. The study was published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition by Christopher Anderson, Catherine Yepez, and Shannon E. Whaley from Heluna Health's Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC Program, Lauren Au from the University of California, Davis, and Marisa Tsai and Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The study was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

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