Everyone Benefits from WIC CVB Increase

WIC is a USDA-funded program that provides healthy foods to low-income pregnant and postpartum people, infants, and children up to age 5. WIC reaches nearly half of all infants born in the U.S. The WIC foods are loaded electronically onto a WIC benefits card with monthly amounts allocated for each food. Fruit and vegetable amounts are issued as a “Cash Value Benefit” (CVB) that can be used to buy any variety of fruit or vegetable.

In June 2021, the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act increased the WIC CVB amounts for all adults and children receiving WIC from $9 and $11 to $35 for four months. Congress extended the increased amounts at $24 for children and $43 or $47 for adults, depending on breastfeeding or chestfeeding status, through March 31, 2022.

A study of over 1600 WIC families in Southern California showed that it is essential to the health of WIC families and communities all around to keep this increase in place. Nearly all participants found the prior amount of $9 for children to not be enough. However, more than three-quarters of the participants reported that the increased amount of $35 is ‘just right.’

(NPI & PHFE WIC, 2021)

PHFE WIC is the largest Local Agency WIC program in the country, serving over 180,000 participants. Families served by PHFE WIC spent $10.6M more on fruits and vegetables with their increased CVB amounts from June to September 2021 compared to the same period of months in 2020.

(NPI & PHFE WIC, 2021)

This translates to an increase of over $50M across the state of California in WIC purchases of fruit and vegetables during the four months. This increased spending creates a domino effect of benefits that goes beyond just WIC families. Not only does it benefit WIC families and their communities, but also the communities where produce is grown and sold.

The increased amounts of fruit and vegetables help WIC families and benefit every low-income community in each state across the entire country. Congress must act to continue this increase beyond March 2022.

Adapted from Nutrition Policy Institute & PHFE WIC (2021). More Veggies and Fruit for WIC families is a WIC for California and the Nation. LA WIC Data. https://lawicdata.org/2021/12/more-veggies-and-fruits-for-wic-families-is-a-win-for-california-and-the-nation/.

Senators Introduce MODERN WIC Act

On November 23rd, 2021, a bipartisan bill called More Options to Develop and Enhance Remote Nutrition in WIC Act, or MODERN WIC Act, was introduced. This bill would make permanent revisions to WIC certification requirements, sustaining the flexibilities that helped families gain access to the program during the pandemic.

For social distancing purposes during the pandemic, WIC agencies were allowed to complete certifications over the phone, and the requirement for WIC providers to measure a participant’s weight and height was waived. These flexibilities helped many WIC program participants and new applicants overcome the barriers to WIC services that in-person requirements can create.

Barriers to completing in-person certifications include

Taking Time off Work

Arranging Transportation or Childcare

Wait Times at WIC Offices

Child participation has increased 20% at PHFE WIC, and 8% nationwide since March 2020, showing how important virtual WIC services were during the pandemic.1 The MODERN WIC Act will continue virtual services, expanding access to families who qualify.

The Modern WIC Act proposes the following:

WIC program applications to be completed over video conferencing or telephone with health assessment data submitted to WIC within 90 days

Food benefits to be remotely added to participant WIC EBT cards

More investment in WIC technology to help with online appointments and education

The MODERN WIC Act will allow WIC providers to continue as they always have: to help families access healthy foods.

Read NWA’s full press statement here, and click here to view a fact sheet on physical presence at WIC.


  1. Senators Introduce MODERN WIC Act, Bipartisan Fix for Physical Presence. National WIC Association. https://www.nwica.org/press-releases/sens-gillibrand-marshall-introduce-bipartisan-bill-to-strengthen-remote-wic-services#.YbJPA1XMJpg. November 23, 2021.
  2. Striking The Balance: Unlocking Remote WIC Services after COVID-19. National WIC Association. https://s3.amazonaws.com/aws.upl/nwica.org/physical-presence.pdf?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=003395f0-195e-4759-bb52-cc294f90a17f. October 2021. Accessed December 6, 2021.