The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). WIC was established in 1972 to counteract the negative effects of poverty and poor nutrition on prenatal and pediatric health. WIC provides a combination of direct nutritional supplementation, nutrition education and counseling, and increased access to health care and social service providers for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women; infants; and children up to age five.
Since 1992, FNS has produced biennial reports on WIC participant and program characteristics based on the WIC Minimum Data Set (MDS) compiled from state management information systems. The 20 items included in the MDS are collected as part of ongoing WIC operations and consist primarily of in formation related to participant eligibility. This report presents findings from the National Survey of WIC Participants and Their Local Agencies (NSWP).
The NSWP was fielded in spring of 1998 and collected information about WIC participants and their families, through interviews conducted in WIC service sites throughout the country. The NSWP was the first national survey of WIC enrollees since 1988. Over that ten-year period, the WIC program vastly expanded, with the number of enrollees growing from approximately 3.4 million in 1988 to over 8 million in 1998.