Nearly half of the children born each year in the U.S. rely on WIC to begin life with healthy nutrition. WIC–formally the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children–serves over 6 million women, infants, and children through age 4 who benefit from WIC's food package, breastfeeding and other nutrition counseling, and from referrals to other services. Researchers at the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute in partnership with Public Health Foundation Enterprise-WIC, Pepperdine University, and the National WIC Association released a policy brief sharing evidence-based recommendations for strengthening the federal WIC program. The policy brief compiles evidence from multiple local, statewide, and multi-state studies–interviews, surveys, and convenings–evaluating recent changes to WIC during the COVID-19 pandemic, including an increase in the cash value benefit for purchasing fruits and vegetables. Based on these findings, key stakeholders developed one overarching recommendation for WIC–to continue providing a hybrid model of in-person and remote service to participants–and six key policy recommendations. The goal of the recommendations is to increase the enrollment and retention of WIC participants to maximize the proven health impacts of the program. This project was funded by the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the National WIC Association, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research Program (grant number 86852).
Author - Policy Analyst
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist