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Missouri State WIC Program Experiences of the New WIC Food Package Implementation – Fruits and Vegetables
The Missouri WIC program implemented the new WIC Food Package on 1 October 2009. In the past 15 months, the program has faced challenges and has taken advantage of opportunities to learn and provide better customer service to stake holders (e.g. WIC participants, local WIC providers, WIC grocery stores and food manufacturers).
Fruit and Vegetable Cash Value
Fruit and vegetable CVV’s were issued to WIC children ($6.00) and women ($10.00) at the same time as staggering the implementation date. They receive a cash value voucher (one check) per month. The value of the check varies based on their program category. In Missouri, if there are two or more WIC participants in a family, more than one fruit and vegetable check may be used for one purchase. For example, a $6 and a $10 check can be used for a $16 purchase. However, some stores were only able to allow one fruit and vegetable check per purchase.
Missouri WIC Approved Fruits and Vegetables
All fruits and vegetables which are fresh or frozen and meet the requirements indicated in the Code of Federal Regulations (7CFR246.10) were approved for use. Canned fruits and vegetables were not approved for the current WIC Approved Food List (Effective Period: October 1, 2009 – September 30, 2011). Canned fruits and vegetables will not be added to the new WIC approved food list (Effective: October 1, 2011 – September 30, 2013).
Missouri developed a WIC Approved Fruits and Vegetables brochure which includes the following information:
- How To Use Fruit and Vegetable Checks ;
- Allowed Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Frozen Fruits and Frozen Vegetables ;
- Not Allowed Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Frozen Fruits and Frozen Vegetables.
The printed brochures are available in English and Spanish. The brochure was also made available on our website in ten other languages (Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, Farsi, Hmong, Korean, Russian, Somali, Ukrainian, Vietnamese) for downloading as needed. A new list will be provided (Effective: October 1, 2011 – September 30, 2013) in 16 languages to meet local WIC providers’ requests.
WIC State Vendor Staff Feedback
In the first few months after implementation, many requests were received by vendor staff for clarification on which fruits and vegetables were eligible. However, most of the calls that were received are from local WIC providers reporting that a WIC store does not have an item correctly identified in their register system. Stores that were not monitored last year will now be monitored, so the number of questions may increase again.
Local WIC Providers Feedback
In January 2011, a survey was conducted to obtain information from 118 local WIC providers in Missouri about the availability of WIC approved food items. More than 60% of local WIC providers reported that they had not heard of any problems with participants finding both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. About 15% of respondents reported that they have seldom heard of problems from their participants. This indicates participants in the Missouri WIC program have been able to find fresh and frozen fruits and / or vegetables at their WIC stores without significant problems.
Fruits and Vegetables Daily
Consumption Status (Pre-test)
The Missouri WIC program participated in the National Food and Nutrition questionnaire (NATFAN) survey in 2009. Prior to the implementation of the new food package, 928 women questionnaires and 460 children questionnaires were completed. According to the result of the NATFAN pre-test, about 40% of children consumed two or more servings of fruits per day and two or more servings of vegetables in Missouri. However, only approximately 30% of women consumed two or more servings of vegetables per day. The results of the NATFAN post-test will provide more information on the outcomes in this area.
Fruit and Vegetable Check
The redemption rate for Missouri’s fruit and vegetable cash value voucher is 78%. The program is looking to now increase this number to 100% redemption.
The new food package has been successfully implemented and has provided fruits and vegetables in fresh and frozen form. Although WIC vendor staff continue to receive inquires from WIC grocery stores, the number of inquiries has declined and the provision of technical assistance and training sessions has assisted in avoiding issues in this area.