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J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Feb;114(2):288-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.08.003. Epub 2013 Oct 30.

Impact of the revised Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package policy on fruit and vegetable prices.

Abstract

Obesity is generally inversely related to income among women in the United States. Less access to healthy foods is one way lower income can influence dietary behaviors and body weight. Federal food assistance programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), are an important source of healthy food for low-income populations. In 2009, as part of a nationwide policy revision, WIC added a fruit and vegetable (F/V) voucher to WIC food packages. This quasi-experimental study determined whether F/V prices at stores authorized to accept WIC (ie, WIC vendors) decreased after the policy revision in seven Illinois counties. It also examined cross-sectional F/V price variations by store type and neighborhood characteristics. Two pre-policy observations were conducted in 2008 and 2009; one post-policy observation was conducted in 2010. Small pre- to post-policy reductions in some F/V prices were found, particularly for canned fruit and frozen vegetables at small stores. Compared with chain supermarkets, mass merchandise stores had lower prices for fresh F/V and frozen F/V and small stores and non-chain supermarkets had higher canned and frozen F/V prices, but lower fresh F/V prices. Limited price differences were found across neighborhoods, although canned vegetables were more expensive in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of either Hispanics or blacks and fresh F/V prices were lower in neighborhoods with more Hispanics. Results suggest the WIC policy revision contributed to modest reductions in F/V prices. WIC participants' purchasing power can differ depending on the type and neighborhood of the WIC vendor used.

KEYWORDS:

Food assistance; Food environment; Food policy; Food prices; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

PMID:
24183996
PMCID:
PMC4084875
DOI:
10.1016/j.jand.2013.08.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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