September 15, 2014 - Full-line grocery stores that have not previously participated in the California Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program will be able to apply for authorization to participate beginning today it was announced by Dr. Ron Chapman, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) director and state health officer.
This positive step will help improve availability and access for the 1.4 million women, infants and children who participate in the California WIC program,” said Dr. Chapman.
To address rising food costs in the California WIC program, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2012 continued a moratorium on the addition of new vendors into the program so that CDPH and USDA could develop and implement strategies to contain costs and ensure program integrity. Today, USDA notified CDPH by letter that the moratorium can now be lifted for the additional stores.
In June, USDA partially lifted the moratorium to include additional locations for stores that already had a master contract with the WIC program. Since that time, 167 stores have been added to the program. It is estimated that an additional100 stores will be added statewide in this second phase.
“USDA and CDPH continue to work together to ensure the strategies now in place are effective in containing food costs and comply with federal regulations and mandates,” said Dr. Chapman.
The moratorium to add the remaining vendors will be lifted by USDA in a third phase at a later date. California currently has approximately 4,400 authorized stores that participate in the WIC program.
California WIC provides access to healthy supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and community services for the infants, children and pregnant or post-partum women it serves. WIC spends approximately $86 million each month on food.
At the federal level, WIC is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and California’s WIC Program is administered at the state level by CDPH.
Additional information is available on the cost containment strategiesrecently implemented.