Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Taking a closer look at the WIC website, I identified the program mission: "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 up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk."
A program description reads: "WIC food packages and nutrition education are the chief means by which WIC affects the dietary quality and habits of participants."
WIC has worked hard to make the program incredibly efficient, while also upgrading the dietary quality of the food provided low-income mothers and children. Here's a description of recent gains in the quality of nutritive food products distributed:
"New food packages are now being provided to WIC participants in all States. On December 6, 2007, an interim rule revising the WIC food packages was published in the Federal Register. The new food packages align with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The food packages better promote and support the establishment of successful, long-term breastfeeding, provide WIC participants with a wider variety of foods including fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and provide WIC State agencies greater flexibility in prescribing food packages to accommodate the cultural food preferences of WIC participants."
For years we've referred women with infants to WIC for the nutritious food products needed by their little ones. Women earning at or below 185% of the federal poverty level have been eligible for the program. To put that in real terms, a mother with one child could earn up to $338 weekly gross and qualify for WIC food products.
Clearly, infant nutrition or the lack thereof drives a number of important social and , ultimately, economic and public health outcomes, including obesity, brain development and function, learning capacity, family stability, and overall well-being and health.
Aren't are children worth the cost? Isn't the investment one that will serve us all very well over the long haul?