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Abstract

The federally funded Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program issues redeemable food instruments (or vouchers) to low-income mothers and their small children who demonstrate nutritional need. Not all such food instruments are actually redeemed. Both ethnicity and home language preferences were found to be significantly correlated with individuals' WIC food instrument redemption likelihood. However, these correlations provided little indication that any food type (except cheese for Asians) is more or less culturally acceptable to any particular ethnic or language group. Regardless of ethnicity, persons who show English as their family language preference tend to have lower food instrument redemption rates than do those who prefer to speak any other language, at least among family members. This redemption rate disparity indicates that, to induce participants to follow dietary guidelines consistent with general public health goals, even a food assistance program, such as WIC, needs to employ some marketing techniques. Use of the English language should be a major consideration in segmenting WIC markets.

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