The influence of the WIC food package changes on the retail food environment in New Orleans

J Nutr Educ Behav. May-Jun 2014;46(3 Suppl):S38-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2014.01.008.


Objective: To examine the effect of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package changes on availability of healthy foods in small stores.

Design: Pre-post comparison group design with repeat in-store observations.

Setting: New Orleans.

Participants: Small stores (n = 102; 77% of total) were visited in 2009. Of these, 91% were observed again in 2010, including both WIC (n = 27) and non-WIC (n = 66) stores.

Intervention: The 2009 WIC food package changes to include healthier foods.

Main outcome measures: Change in store availability of fruits, vegetables, lower-fat milks, whole wheat bread, and brown rice. Change in number of varieties and shelf length of fruits and vegetables.

Analysis: Difference-in-differences analysis using logit models for change in availability and regression models for change in number of varieties or shelf length.

Results: The WIC stores were more likely to improve availability of lower-fat milks than non-WIC stores (adjusted odds ratio, 5.0, 95% confidence interval, 1.2-21.0). An even greater relative improvement was seen with whole grains. The WIC stores showed a relative increase in number of varieties of fresh fruits (0.9 ± 0.3; P < .01) and shelf length of vegetables (1.2 ± 0.4 meters; P < .01).

Conclusions and implications: Results suggest that WIC changes improved the availability of healthy foods in small stores in New Orleans. Similar changes throughout the country could have a significant impact on neighborhood food environments.

Keywords: United States Department of Agriculture; WIC; food environment; food supply; policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Food Assistance*
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fruit
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • New Orleans
  • United States
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Vegetables