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. State Contacts
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.
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 birthweights and lower infant mortality. More
information about How WIC Helps.
How to Apply
WIC Program Fact Sheet