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Providing Evidence for Healthier Food Packages for Low-income Women and Young Children

About the Initiative

  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC Program) – provides nutritious foods, education on healthy eating and breastfeeding to low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to five years of age.
  • A targeted intervention by UCLA researchers granting food vouchers to low-income women in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) found that during the 6-month study, consumption of fruits and vegetables increased, and this increase was sustained 6 months after the intervention was over.
  • The WIC program provided an ideal context for investigating ways to improve the consumption of fruits and vegetables, as it was targeted to a low-income population and was designed to improve dietary quality both through subsidizing nutrient-dense foods and through nutrition education.
  • The WIC program was developed prior to the appreciation of the relationship of intake of fruits and vegetables to chronic disease risk, and the supplemental foods were selected to provide the nutrients most limited in the diets of women and children—protein, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.


  • The study, demonstrating that participants valued fruits and vegetables, provided the evidence to support Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations to change the WIC food package to include fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Dena Herman provided testimony to both houses of the US Congress and the USDA Undersecretary for Agriculture in 2005 on the topic.  Changes to the WIC food packages were made nationally in 2009.  




Dena Herman