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Assessing changes associated with expanding the WIC Cash-Value Benefit for the purchase of fruits and vegetables among children age 1-5 years: a longitudinal study

  • Program: Food and Nutrition
  • Introduction: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) cash-value benefit (CVB) for fruits and vegetables was augmented. The CVB for WIC-participating children increased from $9 to $35/month from June to September 2021 and shifted to $24/month through September 2022. This study will assess how an increased CVB is associated with fruit and vegetable access, fruit and vegetable intake (FVI), household food security (HFS), and WIC program satisfaction among participating families from Southern California. Methods: This longitudinal, observational study of the CVB augmentation conducted surveys at three timepoints: baseline (May 2021), midpoint (September 2021), and endpoint (May 2022). Descriptive statistics and changes in study outcomes from baseline were calculated in the full sample and stratified by race and ethnicity. Results: 1,673 families completed both baseline and midpoint surveys. Between baseline and midpoint surveys, the proportion of families reporting the benefit was ‘not enough’ decreased (89% to 23%) and the proportion saying the benefit was ‘just right’ increased (7% to 73%) (p<0.0001). CVB redemption increased ($11.60/family/month to $41.70/family/month, p<0.0001). HFS increased (45% to 56%, p<0.0001) and child FVI decreased (2.43 vs 2.37 cups/day, p<0.01). Changes in HFS and child FVI did not differ significantly by race and ethnicity. Results from endpoint (May 2022) will be presented. Discussion: The augmented WIC CVB was associated with increased participant satisfaction, fruit and vegetable access, and HFS in California WIC participants. Longer-term increases in CVB may be needed to improve child fruit and vegetable intake.
Marisa Tsai
University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute
Doctoral student
  • Linked Session ID: 941023
  • Authors: Marisa Tsai, MS, MPH1, Christopher Anderson, MSPH, PhD2, Catherine Martinez, MPH2, Martha Meza2, Lauren Au, PhD, RD3, Lorrene Ritchie, PhD, RD3, Shannon Whaley, PhD2
    1University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute, 2Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC, 3Nutrition Policy Institute, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
  • Learning Outcome 1: List 3 changes experienced by participants following the WIC CVB augmentation.
  • Learning Outcome 2: Describe if differences in experience were detected among participants of different racial and ethnic groups.
  • Linked Session Title: Understanding Perceptions and Utilizations of the WIC Cash Value Benefit