The nation’s special nutrition program of infants and young mothers, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, has been extremely effective at providing help to disadvantaged families at critical times during their children’s lives.
WIC provides nutritious foods, counseling on healthy eating, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals to millions of low-income women, infants, and children at nutritional risk, according to an expert analysis from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
WIC participation improves low-income families’ nutrition and health at a critical stage of development, leading to healthier babies, more nutritious diets, better health care for children, and higher academic achievement for students, CBPP said.
Since its full funding began in 1997, WIC’s participation and costs have been remarkably stable.
WIC now serves about 8 million women, infants, and children each month, CBPP said.
Because per-participant WIC costs for food and nutrition services have remained steady, the decline in participation in recent years has returned annual WIC spending nearly to pre-recession levels in nominal terms ($6.22 billion in 2014 compared with $6.19 billion in 2008) and below pre-recession levels in inflation-adjusted terms, CBPP said.