holder groups. The recommended changes address their major concerns, appear manageable for both WIC agency staff and vendors, and provide a number of benefits. Table 6-7 summarizes how the proposed changes address Criterion 6, highlighting some of the major concerns expressed to the committee by various stakeholders. In general, the committee’s final recommendations reflect the kinds of changes that were proposed by WIC administrators (Knolhoff and Dallavalle, 2004; Sallack, 2004; Tate, 2004; Jenks, 2004; Hoger, 2004) and vendor representatives (Gradziel et al., 2004) who communicated with the committee.
Vendors have indicated that WIC vouchers for fresh produce, prescribed as a dollar amount, need to be on a separate food instrument from the food instruments that itemize specific quantities of specific foods. This is because, to a large extent, fresh produce is sold by random weight rather than with consistent package weights and standard bar codes. Thus, to a large extent, produce cannot be tracked precisely like grocery items that are scanned at the checkout counter. Having both cash-value vouchers for fresh produce and quantity-denominated vouchers (that is, the current type of food instrument with an itemized list of specific grocery items) will facilitate transactions at the checkout stand, save embarrassment, and accommodate the accounting and billing systems currently used between the WIC state agencies and the grocery outlets.
Recommendations for the revision of the current WIC food packages were based on a set of specified criteria. The committee also took into consideration the major concerns that were submitted to the committee by various stakeholder groups. This chapter illustrates how the recommended changes address the criteria and selected concerns of stakeholders. Overall, the revised packages meet the six criteria while remaining cost-neutral. Most nutrient intakes are expected to improve. The proposed changes would result in packages that are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 for those ages 2 years and older and packages that are consistent with widely accepted dietary guidance for infants and children younger than 2 years of age. Since new food specifications expand offerings, more forms and types of foods are suitable for culturally diverse groups with limited transportation, food storage, and cooking facilities. WIC state and local agencies will have more flexibility in developing prescriptions, and the food packages can reinforce the WIC nutrition education efforts, and vice versa. Finally, allowing two types of food instruments—a cash-value voucher for fresh produce and the standard (itemized) food instrument for other foods—is expected to address some vendor concerns about adding fresh fruits and vegetables to the food packages.