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WIC: What it does and why we need it

The President revealed the rest of his proposed budget this week. Though it is unlikely to be adopted as-is, remember, a budget is a document that reveals your priorities. In this case, the President just revealed his desire to cut one of the most successful programs in the nation: WIC.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, popularly known as WIC, provides nutritious foods, counseling on healthy eating, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals to nearly 8 million low-income women, infants, and children at nutritional risk — and leads to long-term benefits.

This is a devastating plan for the families that depend on WIC and the communities that depend on healthy women and children. Extensive research shows that WIC contributes to positive developmental and health outcomes for low-income women and young children. In particular, WIC participation is associated with:

Healthier births

Prenatal WIC participation helps mothers give birth to healthier infants and helps lower infant mortality rates. 

More nutritious diets

WIC has helped reduce the prevalence of anemia, and strong evidence suggests that WIC participation increases infants’ and children’s intakes of some essential vitamins and minerals and improves infant feeding practices. The 2009 revisions to the WIC food package boosted participants’ purchases and consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products and enhanced the availability of healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods.

Stronger connections to preventive health care

Low-income children participating in WIC are just as likely to be immunized as more affluent children, and are more likely to receive preventive medical care than other low-income children.

Improved educational prospects. 

Children whose mothers participated in WIC while pregnant scored higher on assessments of mental development at age 2 than similar children whose mothers did not participate, and they later performed better on reading assessments while in school.

You can read more about the research and the impact in Policy Basics: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

WIC is both efficient and effective. And when women and children are healthier, communities thrive. It is just that simple.


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