This is an assessment of the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program that has been in existence since 1972. The program was established by Congress in 1972 and authorized to go national in 1974. "WIC is a cost-effective federally funded preventive nutrition program that provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, and access to health care to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and infants and children at nutritional risk." (FRAC, 2001) WIC, unlike other federal programs, is not an entitlement but receives funding through Congress annually.
WIC distributes a monthly food package to program participants that contains a prescribed combination of target foods. These are solely for the purpose of improving the nutritional quality of the program participants' diets and in such a way are specifically tailored to meet the special dietary and nutritional needs of the participants.
The WIC food package is designed to serve the individual through education of what foods are nutritional. These supplemental foods are targeted so as to serve as an addition to their regular basic resources and diet. The foods provide protein, iron, calcium and the specific vitamins A and C, foods determined to be missing from the diets of low-income individuals. WIC authorizes foods like iron-fortified formula for infants, infant cereal, milk, eggs, iron-fortified breakfast cereal, beans, carrots, Vitamin C-rich juice, tuna fish and peanut butter. These foods are provided through the retail system, with participants receiving checks or coupons they exchange for the afore-mentioned foods at a local grocer.
In 1997, the program served approximately 7.4 million pregnant women, infants and children. "It is estimated that every dollar spent on WIC nets between a $1.77 and $3.13 in Medicaid savings for newborns and their mothers. The program has been proven to: increase the number of women receiving prenatal care, reduce the incidence of low...