Women and Federal Nutrition Programs

Federal programs can provide low-income women and their families with essential help in obtaining food and income support. The Federal Food Stamp Program (FSP) helps low-income individuals purchase food. In 2006, nearly 13.0 million adults participated in the FSP; of these, more than 8.8 million (68 percent) were women. Of these women, more than 4 million (almost half) were in the 18- to 35-year-old age group. Female-headed households with children make up nearly one-third of households that rely on food stamps, and represent nearly 60 percent of food stamp households with children (data not shown).

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) also plays an important role in serving women and families by providing supplementary nutrition during pregnancy, the postpartum period, and while breastfeeding. Most WIC participants are infants and children (75.0 percent); however, the program also serves more than 2 million pregnant women and mothers, representing 25.0 percent of WIC participants. During the years 1992–2006, the number of women participating in WIC increased by 65 percent, and it continues to rise.

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