Preferences and Perceived Value of WIC Foods Among WICCaregivers

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate preferences for and values of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) foods and packages and understand what factors may influence these preferences and values.

Design:

Using a mixed-methods approach, surveys and individual in-depth interviews were conducted to measure and understand preferences for specific WIC foods and how much WIC food packages are worth to participants.

Setting:

Eight WIC clinics across Illinois.

Participants:

Caregivers of infants enrolled in WIC for at least 3–6 months.

Phenomenon of Interest:

: Preferences for WIC foods, WIC food package values, and factors that influence these categories.

Analysis:

Frequencies were gathered to analyze survey data and interview transcripts were analyzed using constant comparative analysis to identify emergent themes.

Results:

Survey (n = 150) and interview (n = 31) participants valued the food packages in WIC but they valued the infant packages more. The cash value fruit and vegetable voucher increased the perceived value of the program for many participants. Restrictions on food choice preferences (eg, type of milk) detracted value from the program.

Conclusions and Implications:

This study shows that providing more choice in the program could improve satisfaction with WIC overall. More research is warranted with a more representative sample to assess whether expanded food choice would improve value of and preference for WIC foods.

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