Food Assistance & Nutrition Research Program No. (FANRR-41) 41 pp

January 2005

Interstate Variation in WIC Food Package Costs: The Role of Food Prices, Caseload Composition, and Cost-Containment Practices

Food prices within States affect average monthly costs of State food benefits packages provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) more than variations in WIC caseload composition do. In addition, cost-containment practices by State WIC agencies provide different levels of cost savings in different areas, which also contributes to interstate variation in benefits package costs. This study is one of the few to examine the degree to which food prices, caseloads, and cost-containment practices influence costs of State WIC food benefits packages. Because few data exist on the actual food items that WIC participants purchase, the study used a scanner dataset of supermarket transactions and other sources to estimate the average monthly cost of WIC food benefits in several areas.

Keywords: WIC program, cost-containment, food package costs, food prices, WIC foods, WIC caseloads, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

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Last updated: Tuesday, January 11, 2005

For more information, contact: David E. Davis and Ephraim Leibtag