WIC Program Overview
Part of the nation’s nutrition safety net for over 40 years, WIC now serves more than 8 million pregnant and post-partum women, infants, and children in the US. For a family to participate, it must have gross income of no more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level and be at nutritional risk. To simplify program administration, an applicant who already receives SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance is automatically considered income-eligible.
Extensive research has found WIC to be a cost-effective investment that improves the nutrition and health of low-income families — leading to healthier infants, more nutritious diets and better health care for children, and subsequently to higher academic achievement for students. As a result of the research documenting WIC’s effectiveness, Administrations and Congresses of both parties have provided sufficient funding since 1997 to ensure that WIC can serve all eligible low-income pregnant women, infants, and young children who apply for it.
In fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015), WIC served about 8 million participants per month nationwide, including approximately 1,265,000 participants per month in California. In California, nearly 60% of infants born each year are eligible for WIC.
California has 83 local WIC agencies, which can include county health departments, federally qualified health centers, non-profit agencies, and other types of organization such as universities. These agencies provide WIC services in more than 500 sites throughout California.
California has more than 4,000 authorized vendors/grocers where WIC participants can redeem their food vouchers.
See our Research and Data page or the Budget Estimate for more info.