SACRAMENTO, Calif. - -

As of June 1, more stores can now apply for authorization in the California Women, Infants and Children program. The United States Department of Agriculture had been continuing a 2012 moratorium on WIC, citing cost overruns and lack of program integrity. The state health officer now says those concerns have been addressed.

WIC serves nearly 1.4 million infants, children, and pregnant or postpartum women monthly throughout California with healthy supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and community services.

State health officer, Dr. Ron Chapman said, “USDA and California Department of Public Health are confident that the strategies now in place are effective in containing food costs and comply with federal regulations and mandates.” Chapman continued, “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 process of adding new vendors to the WIC program will be done in stages. The first phase 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. 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.

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.

California currently has approximately 4,400 authorized stores.

WIC spends approximately $86 million each month on food.