Ed. Note: This is cross-posted on the Department of Agriculture's blog. See the original post here.
Birthdays are truly special occasions, celebrating a milestone of achievement. This week, USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (better known as WIC) celebrates the program’s 40th anniversary, highlighting four decades of helping improve the lives of millions of infants and children across America.
Since the first WIC clinic opened in Pineville, KY, back in 1974, the program now provides services through almost 1,900 local agencies in all 50 states, 34 Tribal Organizations, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Key to the program’s success are its nearly 10,000 clinics, which provide supplemental nutritious food, health care referrals, and nutrition education, as well as helping to promote and support breastfeeding through efforts like Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work. The results speak for themselves. Thanks to WIC’s health care referrals, participants use more of all types of health care services -- including dental care and immunizations.
Over the last four decades, the WIC Program has consistently shown to lead to better pregnancy results, such as increased birth weights and fewer premature births. And WIC benefits are available to children up to age five, providing healthy nutrition and instilling healthy behaviors they can carry with them for a lifetime.
Taken together, the contribution this vital program has made to improve the lives of millions of expectant moms, infants and kids over the past 40 years clearly makes the WIC anniversary a birthday we can all celebrate.