WIC study finds program supports a healthier next generation

Farm Forum

As National Nutrition Month hits its stride, USDA is excited to announce more evidence that the WIC program is building a healthier future for our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable. A new USDA study finds that the program continues to serve a high percentage of those who qualify, providing them the nutritional access and resources necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

Officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, WIC offers an important boost to the wellbeing of low-income families. The program provides prescribed, healthy, supplemental foods, as well as nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support), and health care referrals to more than 8.5 million low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the WIC program as a key public health force in the nation’s fight against childhood obesity.

The benefits to a healthy start in life are hard to overstate. The research announced today indicates that in an average month in 2011, WIC served 83 percent of eligible, low-income infants; 70 percent of eligible, low-income pregnant women; and 76 percent of eligible, low-income postpartum women. And for the first time, the estimated number of eligible breastfeeding women exceeded the number of eligible non-breastfeeding women. That’s particularly good news, as studies confirm there is no better food than breast milk for a baby’s first year of life. Breastfeeding provides numerous health, nutritional, economical and emotional benefits to both mother and baby.

But there is more good news. Last month, USDA announced an update to the foods provided through the WIC program to include more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. These important changes mark the completion of the first comprehensive revisions to the WIC food packages since 1980!

To help us celebrate National Nutrition Month, join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to show how you are promoting better nutrition and supporting a healthier next generation, using the hashtag #HealthierNextGen.