The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a proven public benefit program providing nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals to health care and social services to low-income women and their infants and children. The program provides vouchers for nutritious foods to support a healthy pregnancy, breastfeeding or nutritious food for children under 6 and is part of the United States’ nutrition safety net. It plays a vital role in improving lifetime health for those that receive the assistance.
Last week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report detailing research supporting the positive effects of WIC. Just a few of the positive benefits of WIC include:
- Healthier babies and reduced infant mortality when the mom participates in WIC
- WIC participants buy and eat more nutritious foods in line with current dietary guidelines – fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy
- Participating children have immunization rates equal to more affluent children
- Participating children are more likely to receive preventive medical care than non-participating low-income children
- Children whose moms participated in WIC had higher mental development scores at age 2 and performed better in reading later in school
- Low-income neighborhoods have greater access to fruits, vegetables and whole grains than in previous years due to changes in the WIC food packages
In Nebraska, an average of 39,478 women, infants or children received the benefits of WIC each month in 2013. WIC clinics are present in 76 of our 93 counties and served over 1 in 3 babies born in 2013.
WIC has proved to be so successful and advantageous to participants that both parties have voted to consistently fund the program to ensure that WIC can serve all eligible women, infants and children that apply for it. The program is cost-effective with benefits supporting sound nutrition and health at critical times in child development far outweighing the financial investment.