Perceived Barriers Limit WIC CVV Use in Arizona

According to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Philadelphia, PA, May 6, 2014

Low-income and minority communities and people participating in food assistance programs are more likely to consume fewer fruits and vegetables, depriving them of the health benefits of those foods. However, the government provides assistance, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), designed to improve the dietary quality of at-risk women and children and improve their ability to purchase nutrient-dense foods.

To help promote the purchase of nutrient-dense foods, WIC provides cash value vouchers (CVV) to participants specifically for fruit and vegetable products. However, researchers discovered that some barriers to purchasing nutrient-dense foods still exist for WIC participants in a recent study of WIC participants in Arizona.

“Barriers that emerged from participant discussions included negative interactions with either the cashier or other shoppers, issues with lack of training of store cashiers, difficulty keeping up with changes in the WIC rules, and embarrassment and judgment in relation to using WIC,” said lead author Farryl M.W. Bertmann, PhD, RD, Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, Omaha, NE. “Benefits were also discussed by participants, such as comparative ease of use of CVV and inclusion of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables to maximize convenience.”

The study took place in the form of focus groups in areas of metro Phoenix with high WIC enrollment. Participants were recruited from current WIC participant lists. Of 192 women recruited for the study, 41 participated across the focus groups: 11 currently pregnant, eight up to six months postpartum, nine breastfeeding, and 13 who were not enrolled in WIC, but had children enrolled. Nearly all participants were White (97.5%) and 36.5% were Hispanic; the average age was 29.9 years.

During the focus groups, participants shared experiences, facilitators, and barriers in the store while redeeming WIC, as well as how CVV use resulted in positive and negative experiences. Participants also shared ways to make efficient use of CVV, maximize their value, and recommendations to improve the program.

This study suggests that a variety of factors both facilitate and detract from convenient redemption of CVV for fruits and vegetables. The researchers suggest future studies examine the prevalence of the issues raised by the participants, the impact of new strategies to improve WIC and participants’ experiences, and how education might aid WIC participants.

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Notes for editors
“WIC Cash Value Voucher (CVV) Use in Arizona: A Qualitative Exploration of Barriers and Strategies Related to Fruit and Vegetable Purchases,” by Farryl M.W. Bertmann, PhD, RD; Cristina Barroso, PhD, MPH; Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD; Jeffrey S Hampl, PhD, RD; Karen Sell, RD; Christopher Mack Wharton, PhD (DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2014.02.003), Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 46/Supplement 3S (WIC Supplement), May/June, published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628 or jnebmedia@elsevier.com to obtain copies. To schedule an interview with the authors, please contact Melissa Wenzel, Sr. Media Relations Officer, Strategic Marketing and Communications, at +1 602 496 0915, +1 602 579 5204 (cell) or Melissa.Wenzel@asu.edu.

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Dr. Christopher Wharton and information specifically for journalists are located at www.jneb.org/content/podcast. Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media; contact Eileen Leahy to obtain permission.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society’s efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public.

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications.

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jnebmedia@elsevier.com