225871 Understanding the Impact of the New WIC Food Package on Small Stores

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 8:30 AM - 8:45 AM

Stacy Gleason, MPH , Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, Altarum Institute, Portland, ME
Ruth Morgan, MPH , Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, Altarum Institute, Washington, DC
Loren Bell, BA , Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, Altarum Institute, Portland, ME
Background: The WIC food package has undergone some dramatic changes including the addition of a voucher for fruits and vegetables and the allowance of whole grain and low-fat milk purchases. While these changes are designed to promote healthier food choices among WIC participants, small grocers are likely to encounter challenges in meeting the rule because they have a limited inventory of these foods. Methods: This study examines the impact of implementation of the new food package on 1-4 cash register stores, specifically the ability and desire of vendors to participate in WIC, changes in volume of business, and shifts in healthy food availability. 276 small grocers in urban and rural areas across Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were inventoried. Interviews were conducted with store owners and WIC officials. WIC redemption files and authorized vendor lists were also collected. Results: Before implementation only half of sampled stores carried skim (58%) and 1% (51%) milk 1 register stores were less likely to carry some of the new WIC foods than 2-4 register stores We anticipate that the smallest vendors will have the most difficulty complying, thus if we see vendors leaving the program they are likely be from this category. Discussion: The new WIC food package has provided an opportunity to change the dynamic of small store sales of healthy foods. We anticipate that if small stores can overcome challenges in supplying and stocking healthy foods, access and exposure to these foods will improve for the whole community.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Demonstrate the extent to which state stocking requirements and other regulations support or discourage small grocer implementation of the new WIC food package. 2. Identify any changes in state level WIC redemption patterns from before to after food package implementation. 3. Assess whether small stores increased or decreased their inventory of the healthy WIC foods in response to the package changes. 4. Explain how easy or difficult it was for small stores to obtain the additional healthy foods they needed to incorporate into their inventory.

Keywords: WIC, Federal Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I co-designed and managed this study. I am experienced in designing and conducting formative, process, and outcome evaluations for a variety of food assistance programs.
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.