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Understanding the factors influencing low-income caregivers’ perceived value of a federal nutrition programme, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

  • Summer Joy Weber (a1), Jana Wichelecki (a2), Noel Chavez (a3), Stephanie Bess (a4), LaShon Reese (a4) and Angela Odoms-Young (a2)...



Retention of participants has been an issue in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). It has been suggested that the perceived value of WIC may affect whether participants remain in the programme. The present study aimed to explore this phenomenon.


Using a constructivist approach, thirty-one individual in-depth interviews were conducted. Transcripts were analysed using constant comparative analysis. Social, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to the value of WIC were explored as the phenomenon of interest.


Eight WIC clinics across the State of Illinois, USA.


Thirty-one caregivers of children enrolled in WIC for at least 6 months.


Several factors influenced perceived value of WIC at the interpersonal (level of social support), clinic (value of WIC services v. programme administration issues), vendor (shopping difficulties), community and systems levels (other programme use, stigma and restrictions on food choice). Other themes existed along continua, which overlapped several levels (continuum of perceived need and perceived value of infant formula).


Many caregivers value WIC, especially before their child turns 1 year old. Improvements are needed at the clinic, during shopping and within the food packages themselves in order to increase perceived value of WIC.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email


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