When Women, infant & children (WIC) Began Nationally

In the late 1960s, during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, the federal government focused a great deal of attention on helping low-income Americans.

The 1967 National Nutrition Survey revealed that many lower income children suffered from anemia and inadequate growth. These conditions can adversely affect brain size and cognitive ability. The study showed that children got off to a poor start both physically and mentally because they didn't have enough to eat or they didn't eat the right foods. Some children also suffered because mothers did not get adequate nutrition during their pregnancies.

In 1972, Congress passed a bill sponsored by Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D.Minn.) to create the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Congress funded the program for two years and put the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in charge of it.

When WIC Came to North Carolina

The first WIC offices in North Carolina opened their doors in 1974. The offices were located in: 

  • Forsyth County
  • Guilford County
  • Johnston County
  • Mecklenburg County
  • Orange County
  • Warren County

What Has Happened Since

WIC has continued to change and grow over its three-decade lifespan. USDA has streamlined the process for certifying income eligibility for families already receiving other federal assistance. The Department has added breastfeeding education and promotion to WIC responsibilities. Some states provide food instruments so participants can buy fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets during the summer months.

In 2009, there were some big changes for WIC. There are now more choices to support healthy habits such as breastfeeding, and eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while lowering the fat. There is now more variety. Foods that are available to WIC participants are:

  • Brown rice
  • Fruits
  • Tofu
  • Tortillas
  • Vegetables
  • Whole-grain breads and cereals

WIC has many triumphs to its credit. For instance, childhood anemia has dropped dramatically since the 1967 study - and WIC has been credited as the major reason for that decline. In North Carolina, the WIC Program serves more than 270,000 women, infants and children each month.