The goal of WIC is to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.
Established as a pilot program in 1972 and made permanent in 1974, WIC
is administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Formerly known as the Special
Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, WIC's name
was changed under the Healthy Meals for Healthy Americans Act of 1994,
in order to emphasize its role as a nutrition program.
What We Do
Food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services are provided to low-income women, infants, and children under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, popularly known as WIC.
WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children who are found to be at nutritional risk.
Most State WIC programs provide vouchers that participants use at authorized food stores. A wide variety of State and local organizations cooperate in providing the food and health care benefits, and 46,000 merchants nationwide accept WIC vouchers.
WIC is effective in improving the health of pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants. A 1990 study showed that women who participated in the program during their pregnancies had lower Medicaid costs for themselves and their babies than did women who did not participate. WIC participation was also linked with longer gestation periods, higher birth weights and lower infant mortality.