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Article

USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Vendor Criteria: An Examination of US Administrative Agency Variations

1
Stanford Prevention Research Center, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA 94305, USA
2
Harvard College, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
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Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27412, USA
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School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
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College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA
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Center for Research in Education & Social Policy, College of Education & Human Development, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
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Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC 20001, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Maeve Wallace, Rachel Hardeman, Whitney Rice, Brigette Davis and Dara Mendez
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3545; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073545
Received: 12 February 2021 / Revised: 23 March 2021 / Accepted: 25 March 2021 / Published: 29 March 2021
The food retail environment has been directly linked to disparities in dietary behaviors and may in part explain racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, is associated with improved healthy food and beverage access due to its requirement for minimum stock of healthy foods and beverages in WIC-eligible stores. The selection and authorization criteria used to authorize WIC vendors varies widely from state to state with little known about the specific variations. This paper reviews and summarizes the differences across 16 of these criteria enacted by 89 WIC administrative agencies: the 50 states, the District of Columbia, five US Territories, and 33 Indian Tribal Organizations. Vendor selection and authorization criteria varied across WIC agencies without any consistent pattern. The wide variations in criteria and policies raise questions about the rational for inconsistency. Some of these variations, in combination, may result in reduced access to WIC-approved foods and beverages by WIC participants. For example, minimum square footage and/or number of cash register criteria may limit vendors to larger retail operations that are not typically located in high-risk, under-resourced communities where WIC vendors are most needed. Results highlight an opportunity to convene WIC stakeholders to review variations, their rationale, and implications thereof especially as this process could result in improved policies to ensure and improve healthy food and beverage access by WIC participants. More work remains to better understand the value of state WIC vendor authorization authority, particularly in states that have provided stronger monitoring requirements. This work might also examine if and how streamlining WIC vendor criteria (or at least certain components of them) across regional areas or across the country could provide an opportunity to advance interstate commerce and promote an equitable supply of food across the food system, while ensuring the protection for local, community-oriented WIC vendors. View Full-Text
Keywords: WIC; women; infants and children; Federal Nutrition Assistance Program; health food access; healthy in-store marketing; food policy WIC; women; infants and children; Federal Nutrition Assistance Program; health food access; healthy in-store marketing; food policy
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MDPI and ACS Style

Landry, M.J.; Phan, K.; McGuirt, J.T.; Ostrander, A.; Ademu, L.; Seibold, M.; McCallops, K.; Tracy, T.; Fleischhacker, S.E.; Karpyn, A. USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Vendor Criteria: An Examination of US Administrative Agency Variations. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 3545. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073545

AMA Style

Landry MJ, Phan K, McGuirt JT, Ostrander A, Ademu L, Seibold M, McCallops K, Tracy T, Fleischhacker SE, Karpyn A. USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Vendor Criteria: An Examination of US Administrative Agency Variations. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(7):3545. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073545

Chicago/Turabian Style

Landry, Matthew J., Kim Phan, Jared T. McGuirt, Alek Ostrander, Lilian Ademu, Mia Seibold, Kathleen McCallops, Tara Tracy, Sheila E. Fleischhacker, and Allison Karpyn. 2021. "USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Vendor Criteria: An Examination of US Administrative Agency Variations" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 7: 3545. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073545

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