The federal government provides assistance to women, infants and young children at nutritional risk through a program called The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The WIC program is designed to help low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women as well as infants and children up to age five get access to healthy food.
In addition to providing funds to buy nutritious food, WIC provides education on healthy eating, breastfeeding and referrals to health care. In this slideshow, learn everything you’ll need to know about WIC.
These problems have lifelong implications, including lower educational attainment, lower income potential and a higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse and involvement in the criminal justice system.
WIC aims to reduce food insecurity by providing nutrition education and support to low-income children early in life.
This early intervention can prevent developmental delays in the critical early years of brain development and establish healthy growth and habits.
In the four decades that the WIC program has been in place, it has created a successful track record.
- Women in the WIC program give birth to healthier babies who are more likely to survive infancy
- Babies whose mothers participate in WIC are less likely to have a low birth weight, premature birth or perinatal death
- Those enrolled in the program buy and eat WIC food, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy than their peers
- Children in WIC are just as likely to be immunized as wealthier children and receive more preventative medical care compared to other low-income children
- Children whose mothers received WIC benefits when they were pregnant with them score higher on assessments of mental development at age 2 and later perform better on reading assessments than their non-participating low-income peers
- Children who participated in WIC from birth to age 4 have a healthier growth trajectory and a lower risk of obesity
- Even once families are no longer participating in the WIC program, they continue to buy and eat healthier foods, including more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grain foods
On a macro scale, low-income neighborhoods have more fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods available to the community at large than before the WIC program.