Policy brief urges continuation of the WIC Cash Value Benefit increase

Aug 9, 2023

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—also known as WIC—serves nearly half of children born in the US at some point before their fifth birthday. WIC participation enhances food security, diet quality, and developmental outcomes of children. The program offers a Cash Value Benefit to purchase fruits and vegetables, and additional benefits to purchase other specific healthy foods. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cash Value Benefits were increased from $9 for children and $11 for women to $25 for children, $44 for pregnant and postpartum women and $49 for breastfeeding women in June 2021. These higher amounts will end on September 30, 2023 without Congressional action. The Nutrition Policy Institute and Heluna Health's Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC Program released a policy brief highlighting research showing that the increased Cash Value Benefit improves participants' produce purchases, fruit and vegetable consumption, food security and satisfaction with WIC, and increased sales for farmers and local retailers. Extension of this benefit is critical as one-in-seven participants reported they were somewhat or very unlikely to continue on WIC if benefits decrease.

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