New study highlights impact of increased WIC benefits for fruits and vegetables among ethnic and racial groups

Apr 19, 2024

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, offers nutrition support to diverse populations. The Cash Value Benefit (CVB) for fruits and vegetables, is a key component of the WIC food packages that accommodates diverse cultural, racial, and ethnic preferences by offering flexibility in fruit and vegetable choices. In response to exacerbated health disparities and decreased food security during the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Department of Agriculture increased the CVB from $9 per month per child to the current amount of $26 per month per child. Study researchers assessed the impact of CVB augmentation on CVB redemption, household food security, fruit and vegetable intake, and satisfaction among participating caretakers in California's WIC program  by race and ethnicity. A prospective cohort study across three survey waves from pre-augmentation to post-augementation among a diverse sample of participating caregivers was conducted. Study results demonstrated significant improvements in CVB redemption, household food security, and satisfaction across all racial and ethnic groups following the increases in CVB. Larger increases in satisfaction were found among non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic English-speaking participants compared to other groups. Researchers suggest that continued augmentation of CVB, and further research into factors influencing CVB redemption and its effects on WIC participation could help improve health outcomes across the diverse WIC population. The study was conducted by Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Marisa Tsai and Lorrene Ritchie, Christopher Anderson, Shannon Whaley, and Catherine Yepez from Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE)-WIC, and Lauren Au from the Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis. 

By Brianna Aguayo Villalon
Author - Student Communications Fellow
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of Research
By Marisa M Tsai
Contributor - Research Data Analyst