Number of WIC participants fell in 2011 and program costs rose

A chart showing the average monthly participation in WIC, fiscal years 1974 to 2011.

Federal spending for USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) totaled $7.2 billion in fiscal 2011-8 percent more than in the previous year. WIC helps safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, and infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk, by providing a package of supplemental foods, nutrition education, and health care referrals. Fifty-three percent of 2011 participants were children, 23 percent were infants, and 23 percent were women. Reflecting the continued decline in U.S. births in recent years, participation by all three groups decreased by 2 to 3 percent in fiscal 2011. The decrease in the number of participants was more than offset by a 13-percent increase in per person food costs. This chart appears in The Food Assistance Landscape, FY 2011 Annual Report, EIB-93, March 2012.

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