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WIC Rises to the Challenge

child in woman's arms
By Cindy Long
Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service

Supporting families is the foundation of our mission here at USDA. So, before we close 2021, I’d like to look back at one of our programs that continues to do just that: the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC.

WIC offers vital nutrition support to mothers, caregivers, infants, and children. Since the start of the pandemic, the program has provided America’s children the nutrition they need. USDA recently released a report on how our program partners leveraged the COVID-19 flexibilities to pivot and continue serving participants. For example, 99% of all WIC local agencies conducted certification appointments remotely, up from 12% prior to the pandemic.

But these numbers don’t tell the whole story; throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen examples of agility and innovation from states and partners across the country.

For example, the Staunton, Va. WIC office opened a drive-thru WIC Farmer’s Market to help rural participants access the program. The setup enabled safe social distancing, where vendors placed food directly into the trunk or backseat and helped keep WIC benefit redemption high.

Meanwhile, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe now uses an upgraded WIC mobile clinic to reach underserved communities with breastfeeding information, handouts & brochures, food & snacks, and more.

Maryland updated their WIC app so participants could upload required documentation and access nutrition education – all online from the safety of their own home.

And Michigan now operates a 24/7 WIC breastfeeding support call and text hotline to answer questions from nursing mothers.

USDA thanks all our devoted partners for their efforts to maximize the reach and impact of WIC, while helping America build back better. Their dedication has made an impact for participants throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we know they’ll continue to make a meaningful difference in years to come.

Page updated: November 21, 2023