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The WIC Program: Background, Trends, and Issues

by Victor Oliveira, Elizabeth Racine, Jennifer Olmsted, and Linda M. Ghelfi

Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report No. (FANRR-27) 44 pp, October 2002

cover image The mission of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk. WIC provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, nutrition education, and referrals to health care and other social services. Administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the program has grown rapidly since 1972. Almost half of all infants and about one-quarter of all children 1-4 years of age in the United States now participate. WIC accounts for almost 12 percent of total Federal spending on food and nutrition assistance. This report describes the WIC program—how it works, its history, program trends, and the characteristics of the population it serves. It also examines issues related to program outcomes and administration. How the WIC community responds to these issues may have a large impact on future program operations.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs, program operations and integrity, program outcomes, WIC program

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Last updated: Sunday, June 03, 2012

For more information contact: Victor Oliveira, Elizabeth Racine, Jennifer Olmsted, and Linda M. Ghelfi