Effects of a 2014 Statewide Policy Change on Cash-Value Voucher Redemptions for Fruits/Vegetables Among Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Purpose In 2014, the New Jersey Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) began requiring WIC-authorized stores to stock at least two fresh fruits and two fresh vegetables. We aimed to evaluate the effect of this policy change on fruit and vegetable purchases among WIC-participating households and to assess variation by household access to a healthy food store such as a supermarket or large grocery store. Description Households with continuous WIC enrollment from June 2013 to May 2015 were included (n = 16,415). Participants receive monthly cash-value vouchers (CVVs) to purchase fruits and vegetables. For each household, the CVV redemption proportion was calculated for the period before and after the policy by dividing the total dollar amount redeemed by the total dollar amount issued. Complete redemption was defined as a proportion ≥90% and the change in complete redemption odds was assessed after adjusting for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation. Assessment We observed a small increase following the policy change [odds ratio (OR) 1.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04–1.17]; however, the effect varied by healthy food access (p = 0.03). The odds increased for households with access to at least one healthy food store (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.06–1.20) while no effect was observed for households without such access (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.76–1.10). Conclusion Policy change was associated with a small increase in purchasing, but only among households with healthy food access. The state is addressing this gap through technical assistance interventions targeting WIC-authorized small stores in communities with limited access.
KeywordsNutrition policy Fruits Vegetables Food Public assistance
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