WIC Program Description
The Women Infant and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program is a supplemental food and nutrition program for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women and children under age five who have a nutritional risk.
The goal of the WIC program is to decrease the risk of poor birth outcomes and to improve the health of participants during critical times of growth and development. To meet our goal we provide nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion, referrals to health and other social services and nutritious foods. WIC foods provided to participants include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk, peanut butter and iron fortified cereals. WIC recognizes and promotes breastfeeding as the optimal source of nutrition for infants. For women who do not fully breastfeed, WIC provides iron-fortified infant formula.
WIC is unique among federally administered programs in that it provides specific supplemental nutritious food and nutrition education to a specific target population as a short term intervention and adjunct to ongoing health care. The supplemental foods provided by the WIC program are designed to meet the participants enhanced dietary needs for specific nutrients during brief but critical periods of physiological development. It is "short term", in that, on average, WIC participants receive services for approximately two years.
WIC provides specific supplemental nutritious food, nutrition education and referrals to health and other social services to participants at no charge. WIC serves low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to the age of 5 who are at nutritional risk. To be eligible for WIC, participants income level must be at or below 185% of the U.S. poverty level income guidelines. A person who participates or has family members who participate in certain other benefit programs, such as CalFresh or TANF, will automatically meet the income eligibility requirements.
WIC receives federal funding from the US Department of Agriculture. California contracts with 83 local county and private non-profit agencies to deliver WIC services throughout the state through over 650 local WIC offices. WIC has received strong bipartisan support throughout its 32 year history. Significant funding increases have allowed California WIC to grow from serving 520,000 participants a month in 1991 to over 1.4 million a month in 2009. The Stanislaus County WIC program serves 22,800 participants each month. WIC also utilizes rebate contracts with formula manufacturers that generate $2 billion in nontax revenue for the program. California also has rebate contracts with juice processors, which bring about $2.7 million in savings in juice expenditures per month.