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California WIC Moratorium Is Lifted

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Last updated on February 2nd, 2015 at 08:17 am

The moratorium for stores to apply for authorization in the California Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program was lifted Feb. 1. The announcement was made by Dr. Ron Chapman, director and state health officer at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“This positive step will improve availability and access for the approximately 1.4 million women, infants and children who participate in the California WIC Program,” said Chapman.

To address rising food costs in the California WIC Program, the U.S. 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. USDA notified CDPH by letter earlier this month that the moratorium can now be fully lifted.

In June 2014, USDA partially lifted the moratorium to include additional locations for stores that already had a master contract with the WIC program. Since that time, 217 stores have been added to the program. In September 2014, USDA partially lifted the moratorium to include new full-line grocery stores. Since that time, 24 stores have been added to the program. It is anticipated that 200 stores will be added statewide after the moratorium is fully lifted. California currently has approximately 4,300 authorized stores that participate in the WIC program.

“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 Chapman.

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 $83 million each month on food.

At the federal level, WIC is administered by the USDA, and California’s WIC Program is administered at the state level by CDPH.

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