RECENT NEWS ON THE SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is designed to respond to the nutrition and health needs of low-income mothers and young children in the United States. WIC serves pregnant and post-partum women, infants, and children up to age 5. In existence since 1975, the program currently serves nearly 7.3 million individuals annually and supports 53 percent of all infants born in the US.
WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, nutritious foods, and referrals to health and social services. The foods are provided in a pre-determined package, which includes fruit and vegetables, infant foods, low-fat dairy items, whole grains, peanut butter, legumes, eggs, juice, and iron-fortified infant formula. The food package is designed to assure healthy pregnancies and birth outcomes and support the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers, and young children.
WIC has made great strides in increasing participants’ consumption of fruit and vegetables. With the 2009 food package changes, WIC participants have been able to purchase fruit and vegetables through the program. Since these changes, studies have shown improved access to healthy foods for both WIC participants and the larger community as well as increased consumption of fruit and vegetables. In January 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine made recommendations for changes to the current food package to increase flexibility and choice. If accepted, these recommendations will further increase access to fruit and vegetables among WIC participants by allowing the substitution of juice and infant jarred fruit and vegetables.
The WIC program has benefited greatly from evaluations and high-quality research focused on its impact. Research that demonstrates how WIC participation impacts behavior change is crucial to revealing WIC’s positive impact on low-income families. We are pleased to share with you three articles that illustrate WIC’s positive effects.