Women, Infants and Children (WIC)




During the 1960’s the United States began to recognize that many low-income Americans, in particular pregnant women and children, were suffering from malnutrition and hunger due to poverty. In 1969, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) responded to this public concern by creating the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. The program provided commodities to feed low-income pregnant women, infants, and children up to age 6.

In 1972, the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) began as a two-year pilot program under an amendment to the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. The program was implemented in 1973 and it provided supplemental foods to children up to age 4. In 1974, WIC was established as a national program.


The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the USDA administers WIC in partnership with states and local agencies


WIC is funded primarily by Federal appropriations on a yearly basis with no requirement for State matching funds. The New York State Department of Health receives WIC program funds and distributes them to approved local voluntary non-profit health clinics, public health clinics and non-profit community agencies with health services components.

Summary of WIC

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides nutritional and supplemental food, nutrition education, and health care referrals to eligible low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding, post-partum women, or infants and children up to the age of five. WIC participants are given an eWIC card to redeem their WIC benefits at participating WIC stores for the purchase of specific nutritious foods.

Eligibility is based on categorical, residential, income and nutritional risk requirements; there are no immigration or resource requirements for WIC. WIC is not an entitlement, therefore not all individuals determined eligible for WIC are guaranteed a slot. WIC agencies maintain a waiting list or priority ranking system to determine who will get WIC benefits first when the funds are inadequate.

In NYC, applicants apply for WIC at voluntary non-profit health clinics, hospitals, public health clinics and non-profit community agencies with health services components.