Federal Nutrition Program Changes and Healthy Food Availability


      Literature on food environments is expanding rapidly, yet a gap exists regarding the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on healthy food availability. In October 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised the WIC food package, requiring certified stores to stock fresh produce, whole grains, and lower-fat milk.


      The goal of this study is to compare availability of foods in stores that are versus those that are not WIC-certified before and after the policy change.


      Store inventories were collected in 45 corner stores in Hartford CT with four inventories each (180 total inventories) from January 2009 to January 2010. Data on availability and variety of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lower-fat milk were recorded. Analyses were completed in 2012 using Fisher's exact test, chi-square, and t-tests for descriptive analyses and multilevel models to measure food availability longitudinally (significance at p<0.05).


      Controlling for covariates, WIC-certified vendors carried more varieties of fresh fruit (p<0.01); a greater proportion of lower-fat milk (p<0.01); and had greater availability of whole grain bread (p<0.01) and brown rice (p<0.05) than vendors without WIC authorization after the policy change. Conversely, for all outcomes, stores without WIC authorization did not significantly increase healthy food availability.


      The 2009 WIC revisions increased availability of healthy foods among WIC-certified vendors compared to those without WIC authorization in Hartford CT. For many residents without a car, these changes can create a convenient shopping location for healthy foods when a larger supermarket is not nearby.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to American Journal of Preventive Medicine
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Ogden C.
        • Carroll M.
        • Curtin L.
        • McDowell M.
        • Tabak C.
        • Flegal K.
        Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the U.S., 1999-2004.
        JAMA. 2006; 295: 1549-1555
        • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
        National Healthcare Disparities Report, 2010.
        (Rockville MD: DHHS)
        • Morland K.
        • Wing S.
        • Diez Roux A.
        • Poole C.
        Neighborhood characteristics associated with the location of food stores and food service places.
        Am J Prev Med. 2002; 22: 23-29
        • Jetter K.M.
        • Cassady D.L.
        The availability and cost of healthier food alternatives.
        Am J Prev Med. 2006; 30: 38-44
        • Moore L.V.
        • Diez Roux A.V.
        Associations of neighborhood characteristics with location and type of food stores.
        Am J Public Health. 2006; 96: 325-331
        • Galvez M.
        • Morland K.
        • Raines C.
        • et al.
        Race and food store availability in an inner-city neighbourhood.
        Public Health Nutr. 2007; 11: 624-631
        • Powell L.M.
        • Slater S.
        • Mirtcheva D.
        • Bao Y.
        • Chaloupka F.J.
        Food store availability and neighborhood characteristics in the U.S..
        Prev Med. 2007; 44: 189-195
        • Block D.
        • Kouba J.
        A comparison of the availability and affordability of a market basket in two communities in the Chicago area.
        Public Health Nutr. 2006; 9: 837-845
        • Martin K.
        • Havens E.
        • Boyle K.
        • et al.
        If you stock it, will they buy it?.
        Public Health Nutr. 2012; : 1-6
        • Raja S.
        • Changxing M.
        • Yadav P.
        Beyond food deserts: measuring and mapping racial disparities in neighborhood food environments.
        J Plan Educ Res. 2008; 27: 469-482
        • Moore L.V.
        • Diez Roux A.V.
        • Brines S.
        Comparing perception-based and geographic information system (GIS)-based characterizations of the local food environment.
        J Urban Health. 2008; 85: 206-216
        • Algert S.J.
        • Agrawal A.
        • Lewis D.S.
        Disparities in access to fresh produce in low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
        Am J Prev Med. 2006; 30: 365-370
        • Andreyeva T.
        • Blumenthal D.M.
        • Schwartz M.B.
        • Long M.W.
        • Brownell K.D.
        Availability and prices of foods across stores and neighborhoods: the case of New Haven, Connecticut.
        Health Aff. 2008; 27: 1381-1388
        • Farley T.A.
        • Rice J.
        • Bodor J.N.
        • Cohen D.A.
        • Bluthenthal R.N.
        • Rose D.
        Measuring the food environment: shelf space of fruits, vegetables, and snack foods in stores.
        J Urban Health. 2009; 86: 672-682
        • Lucan S.
        • Karpyn A.
        • Sherman S.
        Storing empty calories and chronic disease risk: snack-food products, nutritive content, and manufacturers in Philadelphia corner stores.
        J Urban Health. 2010; 87: 394-409
        • Borradaile K.
        • Sherman S.
        • Vander Veur S.
        • et al.
        Snacking in children: the role of urban corner stores.
        Pediatrics. 2009; 124: 1293-1298
        • Oliveira V.
        • Frazao E.
        The WIC program: background, trends and economic issues, 2009 edition.
        • IOM
        WIC food packages: time for a change.
        • Glanz K.
        • Sallis J.
        • Saelens B.
        • Frank L.
        Nutrition Environment Measures Survey in Stores (NEMS-S): development and evaluation.
        Am J Prev Med. 2007; 32: 282-289
      1. O'Connell A. McCoach D. Multilevel modeling of educational data. Information Age Publishing, Charlotte NC2008
        • Andreyeva T.
        • Luedicke J.
        • Middleton A.
        • Long M.
        • Schwartz M.
        Changes in access to healthy foods after implementation of the WIC food package revisions.
        • Hillier A.
        • McLaughlin J.
        • Cannuscio C.
        • Chilton M.
        • Krasny S.
        • Karpyn A.
        The impact of WIC food package changes on access to healthful food in 2 low-income urban neighborhoods.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2012; 44: 210-216
        • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service
        WIC food packages policy options study, final report, 2011.

      Linked Article

      • Carrots, Sticks, or Carrot Sticks?: Using Federal Food Policy to Engineer Dietary Change
        American Journal of Preventive MedicineVol. 43Issue 4
        • Preview
          In this issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, three descriptive research articles1–3 explore mechanisms by which federal food policy can influence the availability of foods and food purchase behaviors, in the directions emphasized in the Dietary Guidelines. In the article by Andreyeva and colleagues,1 the focus is on the proportion of money spent on beverages among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and non-SNAP participants from a single supermarket chain. In a sample of young, low-income families that had participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) the previous year, the authors identified that the subset who were also SNAP participants purchased a significantly higher percentage of sugar-sweetened beverages, compared to non-SNAP participants.
        • Full-Text
        • PDF