Published Date: November 13, 2023

Summary: Researchers assess trends in food insecurity between 2005 and 2017 — a period including the Great Recession — by participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

Data from the 2005–2017 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) were used, including 7,421 households: WIC participants — those participating in WIC only and in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in addition to WIC — and WIC-eligible nonparticipants. 

Findings: WIC + SNAP participating households had higher crude food insecurity prevalence across time compared to WIC only and WIC-eligible non-participant households. In fully adjusted models,

  1. Food insecurity was higher between 2009 and 2017, compared to 2005, for all groups;
  2. WIC participating households had higher odds of food insecurity than WIC-eligible non-participants;
  3. When WIC participants were split into WIC only and WIC + SNAP, WIC + SNAP households had higher odds of food insecurity than WIC-eligible non-participants; 
  4. The association between food insecurity and WIC participation did not change across time.

Food insecurity increased post-Great Recession among low-income households with children in California, with those participating in WIC, particularly in WIC + SNAP, at higher risk. WIC should consider additional referrals for households who participate in WIC + SNAP.

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