State-assisted moms are about to have a slew of new options for their grocery purchases.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday further loosened a moratorium that prevented new grocery stores from participating in the state’s Women, Infants and Children program, better known as WIC, for more than two years.
“This positive step will help improve availability and access for the 1.4 million women, infants and children who participate in the California WIC program,” state health officer Dr. Ron Chapman said in a statement.
The USDA partially lifted the moratorium in June to allow stores that already had WIC contracts in place to serve clients at additional store locations.
Since that time, 167 stores joined the program, the California Department of Public Health says in a release. The department estimates than another 100 stores will be added statewide during this second phase. An unspecified number of stores will be allowed to take part in the WIC program following an anticipated third round of moratorium-lifting.
About 4,400 stores currently take part in the state’s WIC program, which spends $86 million each month on food alone, according to the department. WIC provides pregnant women and new mothers with supplemental foods, healthcare referrals, nutrition information and other services.
The moratorium was put in place, in part, to deal with rising food costs.