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Nourishing Parents, Babies, Kids: WIC by the Numbers

March 4, 2024

How many people receive federal food benefits each year? What is the demographic data behind these numbers? To find out, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides a comprehensive data overview of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) every 2 years. WIC Participant and Program Characteristics (WIC PC) data are used to guide budgets, design research, and review WIC policies and procedures.

The most recent report, WIC PC 2022, reveals the following:

  • 6.8 million women, infants, and children certified for WIC benefits as of April 2022 – a 3.4% participation decline since 2020.
  • 57% of recipient families fall under the Federal Poverty Guideline.
  • 64% and 32% of participants were identified with dietary and anthropometric concerns upon enrollment.
  • 70% of WIC infants were initially breastfed, which compares similarly to 2020.

The research was conducted by Westat (formerly Insight Policy Research), which has led this work since 2012. The authors include Polina Zvavitch, PhD, Betsy Thorn, PhD, Jake Beckerman-Hsu, PhD, Victoria Perez-Zetune, PhD, Paul Reischmann, Kelley Calvin, of Westat, and Nicole Huret, MA, MS, of MEF Associates.


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