Minimum Stocking Requirements for Retailers in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children: Disparities Across US States

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine state variation in minimum stocking requirements for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)-authorized small food retailers.

Methods

We obtained minimum stocking requirements for 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2017 from WIC Web pages or e-mail from the state WIC agency. We developed a coding protocol to compare minimum quantities and varieties required for 12 food and beverage categories. We calculated the median, range, and interquartile range for each measure.

Results

Nearly all states set minimum varieties and quantities of fruits and vegetables, 100% juice, whole grain-rich foods, breakfast cereal, milk, cheese, eggs, legumes, and peanut butter. Fewer states set requirements for canned fish, yogurt, and tofu. Most measures had a large range in minimum requirements (e.g., $8-$100 of fruits and vegetables, 60-144 oz of breakfast cereal).

Conclusions

WIC-participating retailers must adhere to very different minimum stocking requirements across states, which may result in disparities in food and beverage products available to WIC recipients.

Public Health Implications

The results provide benchmarks that can inform new local, state, and federal program and policy efforts to increase healthy food availability in retail settings.

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