Are Rural Mothers and Infants Benefiting from Changes in National Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Policy?

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2016
Project completed:
December 2017

The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program provides supplemental nutritious foods and services (including nutritional education, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals) to pregnant and lactating women, infants and children up to five years of age in low-income households (i.e., <185% Federal Poverty Guidelines). A primary aim of the revised WIC benefits (i.e, new WIC Food Packages) is to improve infant health via incentivizing breastfeeding. In this project, we examined breastfeeding practices among rural WIC participants before and after this major federal policy change. Data from the National Food and Nutrition Survey, conducted before and after (repeated cross-section) implementation of WIC policy changes, was used to examine breastfeeding, infant feeding practices, and food/beverage consumption in rural areas. Our study included data from 58 WIC programs representing 38 states, two U.S. Districts and Territories, and ten Indian/Tribal Organizations.