Recent recommendations for US food assistance programs are intended to ensure foods provided through these programs help households consume a varied, healthful diet. From a policy viewpoint, it is important to examine the impact of economic incentives to purchase healthy foods across subpopulations, particularly low-income Latinos, who comprise 40% of the WIC program nationwide. Our aim was to determine how rural, Mexican-heritage households (N = 227) residing in California’s Central Valley distributed fruit and vegetable (F/V) voucher spending among F/V subgroups and specific items over a 1-year period. Households contained at least one child who was between 3 and 8 years old at baseline and had a parent of Mexican-heritage. F/V voucher purchase data were collected via grocery store scanners. Expenditure and frequency shares of subgroups and individual items were analyzed to determine purchasing habits. Fruits were the most commonly purchased subgroup, representing 55% of spending and 45% of frequency. Households allocated low percentages of their voucher to dark green and red/orange vegetables—7 and 9% respectively. Approximately 20% of purchases were good potassium sources and 30% of purchases were good fiber sources. Many of the most frequently purchased items were of cultural significance (tomatillo, chayote, chili/jalapeño pepper, and Mexican squash). This study suggests that economic incentives can contribute important nutrients to participants’ diets and targeted vouchers provided by food assistance programs should continue to include culturally important foods and be aware of the cultural values of their participants.
- Food Policy
- Fruits and vegetables
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health