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Comparison of WIC Benefit Redemptions in Michigan Indicates Higher Utilization Among Arab American Families

      Abstract

      Objective

      To assess Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefit use across Arab American, Hispanic, and non-Arab/non-Hispanic families participating in the Michigan WIC program using point-of-sale Electronic Benefits Transfer data.

      Design

      Cross-sectional analysis using administrative data obtained from the Michigan WIC program, which collects Arab American ethnicity in addition to Hispanic ethnicity and race.

      Setting

      Michigan.

      Participants

      Families participating in the Michigan WIC program in March, 2012 (n = 152,989).

      Main Outcome Measure

      Families redeeming all WIC benefits.

      Analysis

      Bivariate frequencies and multivariate logistic regression model identified characteristics of families associated with full redemption of WIC food benefits.

      Results

      About 12% of WIC families fully redeemed their benefits in March, 2012. Compared with non-Arab/non-Hispanic families, Arab American WIC families were significantly more likely to use all of their monthly WIC benefits, even after controlling for family characteristics (adjusted odds ratio, 3.6; 95% confidence interval, 3.4–3.8). Rates of redemption for Hispanic families, however, were the same as for non-Arab/non-Hispanic families (adjusted odds ratio, 1.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.9–1.0).

      Conclusions and Implications

      State WIC programs moving toward implementation of Electronic Benefits Transfer should consider ways to enhance systems that would allow for more opportunities to conduct targeted analyses of benefit use across participant subpopulations. Findings point to low overall WIC benefit use. Additional research is needed to explore methods to increase benefit use among all WIC populations, including whether specific factors may contribute to higher redemptions among ethnic minorities, and whether they can be translated to other subpopulations.

      Key Words

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