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Child Health USA 2013 An illustrated collection of current and historical data, published annually.

Federal Nutrition Programs Serving Women

Narrative

Federal programs can provide essential help to low-income women and their families in obtaining food and income support. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supports low-income women and families by providing supplementary nutritious foods, nutrition education, and referrals to health and other social services. Pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children up to age 5, are eligible to receive WIC benefits. Between 1974 and 2012, the number of women, infants, and children served by WIC has increased over 100-fold from 88,000 to 8.9 million (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).1

In 2012, 8.9 million women, infants and children received WIC benefits, averaging $45 per participant each month.1 More than three-quarters of all individuals receiving WIC benefits in 2012 were infants and children (76.5 percent); however, the program also served nearly 2.1 million pregnant women and mothers, representing 23.5 percent of WIC participants. Of these women, 42.5 percent were pregnant, 29.4 percent were postpartum (up to 6 months after the birth of the infant or the end of the pregnancy), and 28.1 percent were postpartum and breastfeeding (up to the infant’s first birthday).

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Federal Food Stamp Program, also helps low-income individuals and families purchase food. SNAP is available to all individuals who meet the federal eligibility guidelines. In 2011, 44.1 million people living in 20.8 million households participated in SNAP on average each month (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). Women comprised 62.5 percent of the 24.2 million adult SNAP recipients in 2011, while children accounted for nearly half (45.2 percent) of all recipients. Among the households that relied on SNAP in 2011, 5.1 million or 24.5 percent were female-headed households with children, accounting for 52.1 percent of all SNAP households with children (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).3

1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, WIC Program Data, National Level Annual Summary, FY 1974-2012. Accessed: 03/21/13

1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, WIC Program Data, National Level Annual Summary, FY 1974-2012. Accessed: 03/21/13

1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Research and Analysis, Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2011, by Mark Strayer, Esa Eslami, and Joshua Leftin. Project Officer, Jenny Genser. Alexandria, VA: 2012.

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Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

WIC graph

This image is described in the Data section.

SNAP by age graph

Data

WIC Participants, 2012*

Percent of Participants:

  • Women 23.5
    • Percent of Women Who Were Pregnant 42.5
      (During pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after the birth of an infant or the end of the pregnancy)
    • Percent of Women Who Were Postpartum 29.4
      (Up to 6 months after the birth of the infant or the end of the pregnancy)
    • Percent of Women Who Were Breastfeeding 28.1
      (Up to the infant's first birthday)
  • Children 53.3
  • Infants 23.2

*Based on Federal Fiscal Year (October 1 to September 30).

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, WIC Program Data. Monthly Data: National Level, FY 2009-2012. Accessed: 03/21/13.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, WIC Program Data. Monthly Data: Agency Level, Participation and Program Costs by Category per person, FY 2012. Accessed: 03/21/13.

SNAP Participants, by Age and Sex, 2011*

Percent of SNAP Participants by Age:

  • 0-4 Years 15.4
  • 5-17 Years 29.8
  • 18-35 Years 24.0
  • 36-59 Years 22.3
  • 60 Years or Older 8.5

Percent of SNAP Participants by Sex:

  • Women 62.5
  • Men 37.5

*Based on Federal Fiscal Year (October 1 to September 30).