By Janna Kimosh, Public Affairs Branch Chief, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service
WIC is one of the most powerful, evidence-based public health programs, setting moms, babies, and young kids up to be healthy and thrive. The program is associated with incredible outcomes like improved diet quality, birth weights, and cognitive development, and reduced infant deaths, premature births, and health care costs. It’s no wonder more than six million women, infants, and children across America participate in the program.
But still, that’s only about half of those who are eligible, which means millions are missing out on WIC’s proven benefits. (Check out our National and State Level Estimates of WIC Eligibility and Program Reach in 2020 webpage for really cool, interactive charts showing program eligibility and reach by age, race, gender, military status, and more.) WIC has the potential to help so many more.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is working hard to get more eligible families connected to WIC. One of the ways we’re doing that is by making it easier to enroll. We’re encouraging state agencies to continue allowing participants to enroll in and receive WIC benefits virtually as well as in-person.
We’re also leveraging data sharing across government programs to streamline WIC enrollment. In line with the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery and the Biden-Harris Administration National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, FNS is encouraging states to easily connect eligible moms and kids who already participate in programs like SNAP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid with WIC benefits. As part of that effort, we’re investing in a cooperative agreement that will provide subgrants and support to WIC state agencies to expand the use of data sharing to identify, refer, and enroll eligible participants. We encourage colleges, universities, and nonprofits to apply.
USDA believes a healthier future starts with our children, and these steps will help give our nation’s youngest the best possible start through WIC.
To learn more, visit the WIC Modernization & Innovation webpage.