SNAP, WIC, Low-Income Families, Fruits & Vegetables and Food Security : An Investigation of Food Purchasing Behaviors III
Jamelske, Eric M.
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The Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) was established to increase access to healthy foods for low income women with children through benefits provided for targeted healthy foods. The WIC food package was revised to include fruits and vegetables (FV) in 2009 to better align with dietary guidelines. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest support program designed to increase access to food for low-income households. In contrast to WIC, SNAP benefits are not restricted to targeted healthy foods. This study reports on Wisconsin data from 2016 and 2017 for the rates at which WIC food benefits are utilized by participating households across each different targeted food category. Specific attention is paid to the rate of usage for FV benefits compared to other food items. Additional comparisons are made for the usage of SNAP benefits by participating households. Preliminary results suggest that WIC benefits are less fully utilized than SNAP benefits. That said, among WIC food benefits, FV benefits are used more than other some other food items. We are just beginning this work and thus we cannot give more specific details at this time. This research is relevant from a policy perspective as it helps us understand the impacts of a WIC program change to increase access to FV for low income families. It is also relevant to the policy discussion regarding restricting SNAP benefits to targeted healthy foods.
Department of Economics