The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program is a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for women, infants, and children. It is also popularly known as the WIC Program. This program serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to the age of five (5), who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support and referrals to health care. The WIC program is not only limited to just women, fathers and grandfathers can bring in their children to the program. Read on to find out more about eligibility, the requirements, how to apply to the program, and the benefits of the program.
Women, Infants And Children (WIC) Nutrition Program
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program do not only provide food but also nutrition counseling and access to health services and it is available only in the United States. WIC provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children who are found to be at nutritional risk.
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program was permanently established in 1974 although it was created as a pilot program in 1972. The program is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service under the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program was formerly called
- a Special Supplementary Food Program for Women, Infant, and Children. The WIC name was changed under the Healthy Meals for Healthy Americans Act of 1994.
WIC partners with other services that are key to childhood and family well-being. The roles of Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program are majorly three. They are;
- To find out about a child’s need for immunization and share that information with parents,
- To carry out minimum immunization screening and referral protocols, not replacing the State Immunization Program responsibilities, and
- To implement other measures to increase the immunization rates of WIC children.
The WIC programs provide vouchers that participants use at authorized food stores. WIC gets cooperation from a wide variety of state and local organizations in providing food and health care benefits. About 46000 merchants nationwide accept WIC vouchers.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program have helped and improved the lives and health of women, infants, and children in different ways. Some of the ways that the program has helped include;
- Improved Birth Outcomes and Savings in Health Care Costs: the birth outcomes have been greatly improved by WIC via longer pregnancies, fewer premature births, lower incidence of moderately low and very low birth weight infants, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care and savings in health care costs from $1.77 to $3.13 within the first 60 days after birth.3,4,5
- Improved Diet and Diet-Related Outcomes: the positive effect on children diet and diet-related outcomes are higher mean intakes of iron, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6, without an increase in food energy intake, indicating an increase in the nutrient density of the diet, positive effects on the intakes of ten nutrients without an adverse effect on fat or cholesterol, more effective than other cash income or SNAP benefits at improving preschoolers’ intake of key nutrients, and decline in the rate of iron deficiency anemia from 7.8 percent in 1975 to 2.9 percent in 1985 which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributed to both a general improvement in iron nutrition and participation in WIC and other public nutrition programs.
- Improved Infant Feeding Practices: WIC promotes breastfeeding as the optimal method of infant feeding. In this light, WIC participants who reported having received advice to breastfeed their babies from the WIC clinic were more likely to breastfeed than other WIC participants or eligible nonparticipants, WIC breastfeeding policy and program activities were strengthened in the early 1990s, Between 1996 and 2001, the
- percentage of WIC mothers breastfeeding in the hospital increased by almost 25 percent, from 46.6 to 58.2 percent, The percentage of WIC infants breastfeeding at six months of age increased by 61.2 percent, from 12.9 to 20.8 percent, and those infants who are fed infant formula, 90 percent received iron-fortified formula, which is recommended for nearly all non-breastfed infants for the first year of life.
- Immunization Rates and Regular Source of Medical Care: a regular schedule of immunization is recommended for children from birth to two years of age. This coincides with the period in which many low-income children participate in WIC.
- Improved Cognitive Development: cognitive development influence school achievement and behavior and the program has been shown to improve vocabulary scores for children of mothers who participated in WIC prenatally and significantly improve memory for numbers for children enrolled in WIC after the first year of life.
- Improved Preconceptional Nutritional Status: this is an important determinant of birth outcome because a previous pregnancy can cause nutritional depletion of the postpartum woman, particularly those with high parity and short interpregnancy. It has been found that women who received postpartum benefits had higher hemoglobin levels and lower risk of maternal obesity at the onset of the subsequent pregnancy.
- Increased likelihood of children having a regular provider of mental care.
- Improved growth rates. These are roles/ services that the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program. These services can be provided in places like county health departments, hospitals, mobile clinics (vans), community centers, schools, public housing sites, migrant health centers and camps, and Indian health service facilities.
The people WIC aims to serve pregnant women, breastfeeding women, non-breasting postpartum woman, infants and toddlers, and children up to age 5.
Applying to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program has some criteria to make you eligible. The requirements that make you eligible to being a participant of the WIC Program are in four areas. These areas are;
- Categorical requirements: this requirement entails that the applicant must fall into one of the three major categories which is women (pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding), infants (up to their first birthday), and children up to the fifth birthday.
- Residential requirements: the applicant must be a resident of the state which he or she is applying to.
- Income requirements: the income requirement of the applicant is that the gross income must not exceed 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines.
- Nutrition risk requirements: you must have a nutritional risk assessment by a qualified health professional who could be a physician, nurse, or nutritionist. This nutrition evaluation is based on height, weight and growth assessment, hematocrit or hemoglobin levels, general health history, and a diet.
If one can meet up with these requirements, one is very eligible for benefits from Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program.
There is an official website for the program. On this website, one can get all the necessary information they need to answer some of the questions they may have in mind. Recent information, updates, and activities of the program are usually put up on the webpage to enlighten the general public.
All the toll-free numbers, agency addresses, and other contacts like fax for all the agencies in each state can all be accessed from the webpage. It also made finding the agency nearest to you easier to locate. Click Here WIC to locate one nearest to you.
How To Apply WIC
To become a WIC participant (benefactor), you will need to apply. To apply to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, you will need to first contact your state or local office agency to set up an appointment.
There are toll-free numbers to call in every state which you can use to contact an agent in the agency closest to your area of residence. You could also locate the agency closest to you and go there to book an appointment and get the necessary information on how to proceed with your application.
In setting up an appointment, you would be told where to meet up and what to bring along with you. The next step of action is determined by the appointment. There is no online application available for this program.
WIC Program Benefits
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program benefits are not only limited to just food. Participants of the program have access to a number of resources including
- Food packages.
- Health screening.
- Revitalizing Quality Nutrition Services.
- Breastfeeding Promotion and Support.
- Immunization screening and referral to other health, welfare, and social services.
- Substance abuse referral.
- WIC Works Resource System.
- WIC Special Project Grants (loans).
These are some of the benefits one stands to gain from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program. If you are in need of such assistance in the United States and you meet up to the eligibility requirements, you can apply now and get the necessary help needed.