Californians under stay-at-home orders are flocking to grocery stores and stocking up on essential goods. But that means some shoppers who rely on government subsidies may be left with few options.
That’s the case for beneficiaries of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, which gives low-income families access to nutritional foods.
Only certain items qualify for the program. And sometimes, it comes down to minor differences between food products: Natural peanut butter is eligible, for example, but regular peanut butter is not.
Eligibility may also differ based on the brand of the food item.
In California, WIC-eligible items will have a small sticker next to the price on the shelf.
Sarah Diaz with the California WIC Association says that can help people make informed choices.
“Non-WIC shoppers can use those [stickers] to identify what maybe they would want to skip if there’s a comparable option available,” she said.
Melissa Cannon with California Food Policy Advocates agrees.
“If there’s something else, another brand, that doesn’t have that WIC logo on it, try to go for that option,” she said.
Congress recently approved the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which appropriates half-a-billion dollars in additional funding for the program in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
As for shoppers: It’s OK to stock up — as long as you do it responsibly, according to advocates for low-income residents.
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