Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stat of the Day: 53% of infants born in the US are on WIC

From the USDA's FY 2013 Budget Summary:

WIC. The WIC Program, USDA’s largest discretionary program, helps improve the health and nutritional intake of low-income pregnant, breast-feeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to their fifth birthday. WIC works by providing participants with vouchers redeemable for foods dense in nutrients known to be lacking in the diets of eligible groups and by providing nutrition education and referrals to other important health and social services. In 2010, WIC infant participation was over 53 percent of births in the United States.

Or put another way: "WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States."

I find that astounding. Over half the kids born in this country are on some sort of assistance.

Because of my involvement with being a foster parent, I've actually participated in WIC. Let me tell you, this isn't some cushy government program you want to get on. In exchange for checks redeemable to buy the most basic of child foodstuffs (plain rice cereal, peas, some fresh produce), you need to attend training seminars, bring your child in for regular check-ups and jump through hoops at the grocery store. Heck, you can get a feel for it yourself next time you shop - look for food marked with WIC tags and imagine trying to feed a family off it. You're not going to put up with these shenanigans unless you really need the help.

I'm not sure what conclusion I should draw from this statistic. All I got so far is shock. What do you think?

Update: My brilliant wife pointed me to the FY 2013 budget summary, which gives the most up to date information the USDA has on the topic. Thanks babe!


  1. I'd love to believe it's because the country is filled with awesome foster parents, but why do I suspect the country is instead filled with (perhaps also awesome) working poor parents?

  2. Thanks Luther :-)

    I think your instincts about there being massive numbers of working poor are right on..

  3. The phrase that always leaps to my mind is: "We can do better than this."

  4. Well stated TechNeilogy!