221313 Changes in retailer attitudes and practices following the 2007 WIC revisions

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ann Middleton, MPH , New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Evaluation Consultant, Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, Long Island City, NY
Tatiana Andreyeva, PhD , Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD , Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Michael W. Long, MPH , Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Background: Increasing the supply of healthy food options in small neighborhood stores is one strategy for improving food access in low-income communities. Qualitative studies of food retailers cite lack of consumer demand as a primary barrier to supplying healthier food. The recent Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act added fruits and vegetables and soy-based milk alternatives, and provided more whole grains and low-fat dairy to WIC participants, effectively increasing demand for these healthier products in WIC-authorized stores. We monitored how revisions in the WIC policy affected small food retailers' supplier networks and attitudes, including perceived demand for healthier food.

Methods: Sixty-eight small retailers (food marts, convenience stores and grocery stores) from five representative Connecticut towns were interviewed in-person pre- and post-policy revision (Spring-Summer 2009-2010). Thirty-five of the stores were WIC-authorized and 33 were non-WIC stores, matched by neighborhood and store size. We developed a questionnaire to assess practices and perceptions of offering old and new WIC food groups along with less healthy options, like soda and candy. Specifically, we assessed changes in perceived demand, profitability, supports and barriers, and supplier network.

Results: Changes in supplier network, perceived demand for and profitability of selling healthy food will be presented by WIC status. Results will assess how length of ownership, retailer's neighborhood residency, and perceived personal responsibility to provide healthy food modify retailer behaviors and attitudes. Case studies will address hardships and successes faced by WIC retailers implementing program revisions. Implications for future retail-level federal nutrition changes will be discussed.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare the perceived demand and profitability in WIC authorized and unauthorized stores before and after federal nutrition program policy change. Identify social factors that are associated with adoption of healthy foods in the small retail environment.

Keywords: Federal Policy, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I contributed to the development of the retailer survey, sampling, data collection, and analysis related to this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.