Why WIC is Valuable
Good nutrition is a foundation to good health.
Part of the nation's nutrition safety net for over 40 years, WIC now serves more than 6 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 California, the WIC Program is administered by the California Department of Public Health/WIC Division. The WIC Division is one of three divisions within the Center for Family Health (CFH) of CDPH.
The CDPH/WIC Division works collaboratively with 84 local agencies, with more than 500 sites, and approximately 4,000 authorized vendors to serve nearly 1 million participants each month throughout the state.
The WIC Program is authorized by the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Title 42, United States Code, section 1786).
The CDPH/WIC Division is authorized to administer California's WIC Program through California Health and Safety (H&S) Code sections 123275-123355.
The California WIC Program is funded by a discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with additional revenue obtained in rebates from infant formula manufacturers. The Program does not utilize any State General Fund. The federal grant includes separate funding for food expenditures and Nutrition Services and Administration (NSA) funding which is used for State operations and to support local WIC Program operations.
At the state level, CDPH publishes research and data for a variety of WIC program components. These components include WIC program participants, WIC Local Agencies, WIC vendors and WIC program costs.