Leatrice and Giovanna are both mothers who were enrolled in Vouchers 4 Veggies (V4V) through their participation in WIC. Leatrice has been enrolled in the program twice, first in 2015 when she was pregnant with her first child and again in June of 2021, when she became pregnant again. Giovanna enrolled in the program because it was an additional resource to help her and her family, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leatrice enrolled because she wanted to change her diet and eat more fruits and vegetables instead of food like candy and chips.
Eating a healthy diet before joining V4V was difficult for both mothers because of the cost of fruits and vegetables. For Giovanna, the extra support from V4V vouchers goes a long way. She no longer has to pay out of pocket for fresh produce and feels like she can afford to purchase everything else she needs. Leatrice has more opportunities to make healthy choices and no longer has to resort to purchasing foods such as chips or hamburgers, just because they cost less. “Before I had the vouchers, it wasn’t an option to just go and buy a bag of apples…it was easier to go get a hamburger that costs $1 than to spend $5 on some fruit. Now I have a choice. I can make a whole meal with just the vegetables without getting a hamburger.” In addition, V4V has also opened up opportunities for both moms to try new fruits and vegetables. Leatrice has developed a love for dragon fruit and starfruit, both fruits that she would have never purchased if she was not enrolled in V4V. Giovanna has been able to purchase and eat more vegetables like okra and brussels sprouts.
Both moms wanted to eat healthier for their babies and felt V4V vouchers allowed them to not only improve their diets during pregnancy, but also maintain and promote healthy eating habits for their kids. The program has had a big impact on what kind of food Giovanna feeds her daughter: “I was able to find out what fruits she likes and keep getting them…Now that she’s in preschool, I’m able to put strawberries and other fruits she likes [in her lunch] and limit the junk.” For Leatrice, V4V has allowed her to be more creative with the snacks she made for her 5-year-old: “You can make cute little things with the vegetables, so I made ants on a log for my son and he really liked that.”
Participating in V4V also introduced complete lifestyle changes to both moms. Giovanna built a healthy eating routine that includes drinking more water, eating at least a cup of fruit each day, and eating more vegetables for dinner. “When you start a habit, if you keep up with it, then it’s easier to stick to that diet…so that’s what I’m trying to do. [The vouchers] help me stick to these healthy eating habits.” Leatrice is more mindful of what she puts in her body now because she noticed how the food she eats affects the way she feels. She drinks more water because she is able to add berries, purchased with her vouchers, to it. In addition, she now has more knowledge about budgeting for fruits and vegetables. “I know what to spend now and I know how to make a budget with what I have. When the vouchers end, I can still keep up with that budget.” Leatrice has also been able to try out more vegetable-centered recipes now that she receives V4V vouchers. “Me joining the program opens up a whole world of things I’ve never thought about before so this is why I’m so happy I joined.”
Leatrice and Giovanna’s stories demonstrate how increasing access to fruits and vegetables during pregnancy can help build lifelong healthy eating habits for pregnant people and their children. At Vouchers 4 Veggies, we are working hard to ensure all participants have success stories like these ones.