224618 Impact of the WIC food package changes on participant redemption patterns

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stacy Gleason, MPH , Altarum Institute, Portland, ME
Jennifer Pooler, MPP , Altarum Institute, Portland, ME
Gloria Aponte Clarke, MPH , Community Health Systems, Altarum Institute, Portland, ME
Background: Recent changes to the WIC food package are the most dramatic since the inception of the program. These changes were based on recommendations made by the IOM's Committee to Review the WIC Food Package and were intended to improve WIC participant food choices and to promote healthy eating practices. However, obtaining the proposed nutritional benefits will depend largely on participant acceptance of the new food package, making its outcome uncertain. Methods: This study will examine the impact of the revisions on participant food choices and acceptance (redemption rates) of the food package using point-of-sale (POS) data from WIC retailers in Wisconsin. POS data will be linked with demographic data to create analytic files– one prior to and three post-implementation of the new food package. Qualitative data from focus groups will help inform findings from quantitative data. Results: Preliminary results from baseline data indicate that the food types most frequently purchased when prescribed are: milk (98.7%), juice (98.4%), and eggs (97.5%). Beans and tuna had lower rates (65.9% and 77.1%, respectively). We hypothesize the redemption rate for milk will decrease with the new restriction to lowfat milk (2+ years of age) and increase for beans and canned fish now that participants can buy canned instead of dry beans and sardines or salmon instead of tuna. Discussion: Overall, we anticipate that WIC participants will accept the recent changes. However, it will be important to study acceptance over time as purchases made shortly after implementation might differ from purchases made a year after— once participants have gained experience shopping for and cooking with the new foods. In addition, it will be important to analyze information gleaned from focus group discussions regarding issues like consumption (versus purchase) of the WIC foods as well as reasons for food choices and patterns that emerge (e.g. purchasing fresh versus canned or frozen vegetables).

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the food choices WIC participants make pre- and post-implementation of the WIC food package changes. 2. Compare redemption rates of WIC checks and for specific food items pre- to post-implemenation. 3. Describe the factors that may have contributed to the observed redemption patterns.

Keywords: WIC, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee and conduct research and program evaluations related to food assistance and nutrition.
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.