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USA’s WIC Program Transforms Low-Income Families’ Nutrition
The USA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – WIC – administered by 2,200 state and local WIC agencies under the auspices of the United States Department of Agriculture serves over nine million qualifying mothers and young children who are income eligible and at nutrition risk, including over half of all America’s infants and one-quarter of its children between one and five years of age.
Quality nutrition services are the centerpiece of WIC: nutrition and breastfeeding education, nutritious foods, and improved healthcare access for low and moderate income women and children with, or at risk of developing, nutrition-related health problems, including overweight, obesity, and type-2 diabetes.
The foods included in the WIC food packages are specifically selected for their nutritional value to supplement the nutrients found lacking in the diets of low-income populations and include fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables, prepared baby fruits, vegetables, and meats, low-fat dairy, whole grain cereals and bread, light tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel, canned and dried beans, peanut butter, eggs, juice, and iron-fortified infant formula.
WIC consumers use cash value vouchers to purchase healthy fruit and vegetable choices in retail settings or farmers’ markets. Since implementation of the new food packages, researchers have sought to determine the success of fruit and vegetable voucher implementation. We are pleased to share three examples of their research.