Sacramento, California - More stores will be able to apply for authorization in the California Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program beginning June 1, it was announced today by Dr. Ron Chapman, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) director and state health officer.

To address rising food costs in the California WIC program, the United States 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 and CDPH are confident that the strategies now in place are effective in containing food costs and comply with federal regulations and mandates,” said Dr. Chapman. “The WIC Program has made great strides in strengthening its oversight and cost containment efforts including new authorization criteria, revisions to the WIC authorized food list, and new peer group and reimbursement system.”

The moratorium to add new vendors will be lifted in phases by USDA beginning June 1, according to a written notification received this week. California has approximately 4,400 authorized stores.

The first phase of adding new vendors to the WIC program will be to accept applications for additional locations for stores that currently have a master contract with the WIC program. These additions are commonly referred to as “add to master.” Phase one will begin immediately upon the lifting of the moratorium. It is anticipated that approximately 500 store locations will apply for authorization. Other phases of the lifting of the moratorium will allow new vendors to be accepted into the program. A timeline for additional phases has not yet been established.

California WIC serves approximately 1.4 million infants, children, and pregnant or post- partum women monthly throughout California by providing access to healthy supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and community services. WIC spends approximately $86 million each month on food.

At the federal level, WIC is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and California’s WIC Program is administered at the state level by CDPH.

Additional information is available on the cost containment strategies recently implemented.