WIC stands for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and access to health care for low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children under five. The monthly WIC food package provides foods chosen to improve nutrition for pregnant women, new mothers, and children. WIC promotes and supports breastfeeding as the optimal way to feed infants. Adequate and consistent nutrition is crucial to the health and development of infants and very young children, whose brains and bodies are growing rapidly. Through referrals to other health services, WIC increases the number of women receiving prenatal care. By providing key nutrients in healthy foods for women, WIC reduces the incidence of low birth weight and fetal mortality, reduces anemia, and enhances the diet quality of participants.
The federal government created WIC in 1974 as a response to the realization that hunger and poverty were widespread in this country and that inadequate nutrition poses real dangers to pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children. Each year, Congress authorizes a specific amount of funds for the program. WIC is administered at the federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
What's happening with WIC in Maryland?
Additions to the WIC food package
Changes in the WIC food package help ensure all participants can make healthy, nutritious choices with an emphasis on low- and non-fat dairy, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Participantsí checks for WIC foods can include infant cereal, baby foods, iron-fortified adult cereal, vitamin C-rich fruit juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried and canned beans or peas, canned fish, fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread, wheat or corn tortillas, and brown rice. Soy-based beverages and tofu were added in January 2011 to better meet the nutritional needs of WIC participants who are vegetarian or lactose intolerant. WIC continues to promote and support breastfeeding as the optimal source of nutrition for infants.
Maryland Hunger Solutions can help by:
- providing you with WIC outreach materials for you to share with your clients;
- giving presentations to your network on the benefits of WIC and how to enroll in the program;
- training your staff on how to conduct effective outreach and identify WIC eligible women, infants and children.