Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Carla Riemersma


The Special Supplemental Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program is one of many United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) food subsidy programs that serves 8.6 million participants, deemed nutritionally at risk. WIC is designed to influence nutritional and health behaviors to a population least capable of functioning. The purpose of this study was to identify if participation in WIC's nutrition education activities and restricted use of food subsidy benefits had a post-factorial effect on their nutritional behaviors. This study provides data on Bronfenbrenner's social ecological influences and how it impacts on long-term behavioral change. A quantitative causal-comparative design utilizing a convenience sampling method compared responses to a survey on nutritional habits of women shoppers at a Walmart retailer in an urban southeastern metropolitan city. The study population included women aged 18-50 years with one or more child who had or were currently receiving WIC (n = 63) compared with controls (n = 32) who also met the aforementioned criteria, yet did not receive WIC. Analyses of a Wilcoxon signed rank test supported an association between participation in WIC and an influence on participants' food purchase habits, while evidence from a linear equation for repeated measures between groups did not support a common variable for what influenced purchases between cases and controls. This study provides insight for future study regarding WIC's effectiveness to promote long-term health for its participants. It may also lend to discussion by USDA officials to consider programmatic review and change of other food subsidy programs which conceivably could impact the diets of more than 49 million Americans.