Participants' comments on changes in the revised special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children food packages: the Maryland food preference study

J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jan;109(1):116-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.016.


The Institute of Medicine recommended changes in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food packages to help families from diverse populations establish more healthful dietary patterns. A cross-sectional study conducted during summer 2007 included interviews and focus groups with 223 WIC participants throughout Maryland. The objectives were to examine participants' responses to food package changes, to identify racial/ethnic differences, and to assess costs. All participants (100%) consumed fruits and vegetables. They preferred fresh for taste, but many endorsed canned and frozen for convenience and cost. Most women (56%) and children (69%) consumed whole milk and did not want reduced-fat milk. Few participants (13%) consumed soy products and most were uninterested in future consumption. Participants endorsed whole-wheat bread as more healthful and reported that they (59%) and their children (51%) would increase consumption if provided by WIC. Non-Hispanic participants preferred peanut butter over beans, Hispanic participants reported that they (44%) and their children (57%) would consume more beans (substituting for peanut butter) if provided by WIC. There were few differences in preferences between African-American and white participants. Hispanics differed from non-Hispanics in preference for beans and dislike of frozen and canned vegetables, suggesting the importance of choices. The proposed food packages were cost-neutral, except when extensive substitutions with soy products were allowed. By providing fruits and vegetables, reduced-fat options, and increased opportunities for nutrition education, the revised food packages may reduce the risk of obesity among low-income women, infants, and children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Demography
  • Fabaceae
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Preferences / ethnology*
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Food Preservation / methods
  • Food Supply
  • Frozen Foods
  • Fruit* / economics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Maryland
  • Middle Aged
  • Milk
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Assistance*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables* / economics
  • Young Adult