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Publication Date

April 1, 2009



The WIC Program: Background, Trends, and Economic Issues, 2009 Edition

By Oliveira V, Frazao E


The mission of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children through age 4 who are at nutritional risk. WIC provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, nutrition education, and referrals to health care and other social services. Administered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), almost half of all infants and about a quarter of all children ages 1-4 in the United States participate in the program. WIC is USDA’s third-largest food and nutrition assistance program, accounting for 10 percent of total Federal spending on food and nutrition assistance. This report describes the WIC program—how it works, its history, program trends, and the characteristics of the population it serves. It also examines current issues facing WIC, focusing mainly on those with important economic implications.

This research was funded by the USDA Economic Research Service.

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Date Added
January 18, 2018

Oliveira V, Frazao E (2009) The WIC Program: Background, Trends, and Economic Issues, 2009 Edition, Economic Research Report No. 73. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Available online: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/46165/9502_err73.pdf?v=41056