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/.