|Detailed Objective: This work conducts research and analysis of the Special Supplemental Nutrition
Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to support program and policy decisions
including research on:
- estimates of WIC eligibility;
changes in WIC participant characteristics over time; and
nutrient, health risk, and demographic characteristics of WIC participants
and eligible nonparticipants.
WIC is a grant program that provides supplemental foods, nutrition education,
and health care referrals to participants. It is targeted to high-risk low-income
pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding women, and infants
and children up to age five.
In 1984 and biennially since 1988, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
conducted studies of WIC participant and program characteristics. These studies
provide descriptive statistics on all categories of WIC participants, including
children. The studies provide information on a near census of WIC enrollees,
but only for a limited set of variables that WIC State agencies routinely collect
and maintain in their management information systems. This set of variables
is known as the WIC Minimum Data Set. The program characteristics studies (PC)
can answer a variety of descriptive questions about WIC participants at the
national, State, and local levels. The USDA is interested in conducting special
studies utilizing the data on American Indians, migrants, teenage mothers, overweight
children and other policy-relevant subgroups. The Food and Nutrition Service
prepared reports which include a profile of the sociodemographic characteristics,
risk profiles, and health care usage patterns. The data used for these reports
primarily came from existing data in the biennial participant characteristics
surveys, with a special focus on 1996. The completion date for this project
was March 31, 1999.
Another project looks at the fastest growing segment of the WIC population,
children 1-4 years of age. In fiscal 1997, WIC served an average monthly participation
of 7.4 million individuals, including 3.8 million children ages 1 to 4 years
of age. Because large-scale nationally representative studies of WIC's impact
are not feasible at this time, the Food and Nutrition Service intends to expand
the body of research which describes the experiences of WIC and non-WIC children.
The report included descriptive information obtained from the Third National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). The completion date for
this project was June 1, 1999.
The third project deals with estimating funding levels. WIC is a discretionary
program, in the appropriations process, and thus participation is limited by
annual funding levels. To assist in determining appropriate funding levels,
policymakers have long been interested in estimates of the number of eligible
persons, as well as estimates of the number of persons who are likely to participate
if funds were available. This project reviewed and summarized the approaches
which have been taken by the USDA and others to estimate eligible persons for
and likely to participate in the WIC program, identify key data and analytical
issues related to WIC eligible estimation, and point out issues for further
review. The completion date was February 1999.
A final report Estimating the Number of People Eligible for WIC and the Full-Funding
Participation Rate: A Review of the Issues was completed February 1999. Draft
reports on the other two topics have been prepared and are being revised. The
Economic Research Service serves on technical review panels, reviews project
and analysis plans, reviews draft and final deliverables for approval and acceptance,
and reviews for clearance all final reports before Departmental release. The
Economic Research Service provided the Food and Nutrition Service $560,000 in
fiscal 1998, inclusive of $60,000 for dissemination of information.