National WIC Association

February 22, 2023

National WIC Association’s New Report Shows Increase in Child Participation

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National WIC Association (NWA), the nation’s only nonprofit solely dedicated to the support and advancement of the WIC program, released its 2023 State of WIC report, “Building the Bridge to a Healthier Future."

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program serves nearly 6.4 million mothers, infants, and young children across the country. The third edition of this report, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, outlines the landscape of the WIC program during 2022, including the progress of WIC’s modernization efforts; the impact of remote WIC services; WIC's role in strengthening infant feeding; and proposed food package changes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This year’s spotlight equity chapter highlights the impact of economic equity on health outcomes for WIC families.

The 2023 report is available on the WIC Hub, a digital collection of WIC-related information and resources. 

The following statement is attributed to Dr. Jamila Taylor, President & CEO of the National WIC Association:

“In 2022, we focused on laying the groundwork to extend the benefits afforded by WIC to even more families. During the infant formula crisis, we worked closely with state and local agencies to implement local networks that were better able to reach families searching for formula and improve access to imported formula, emergency waivers, and other crucial forms of assistance.

“NWA’s annual State of WIC report demonstrates the value of WIC through a collection of the data and trends within the program. Highlights from this year’s State of WIC report include:

  • Growing participation in the WIC Program is attributable to remote services. “Remote certification and service options became standard during the COVID-19 pandemic, removing persistent barriers to access and resulting in a 12% nationwide increase in child participation. As WIC seeks to maximize its public health impact by connecting eligible participants with services, changes are needed to ensure that WIC families experience the most up-to-date technological capacities, consistent with other healthcare settings.

  • Updated WIC food packages are essential to building nutrition security. “In 2022, the Census Bureau estimated that 11.9% of households with children experienced food insecurity, with Black and Hispanic families being approximately twice as likely to be food insecure than white families. As the nation’s premier public health nutrition program, WIC is positioned to advance the crucial conversations around child and maternal health and to ensure that all families have access to proper nutrition.

“In November 2022, USDA proposed long-overdue updates to the WIC food packages that enhance access to fruits, vegetables, seafoods, and whole grains, reflecting the scientific recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). The last revisions were made in 2009 and resulted in improved dietary quality and reduced childhood obesity among WIC-enrolled toddlers.

“USDA should move to finalize these science-based updates to WIC food packages, and Congress should provide adequate support to ensure that WIC providers can swiftly implement the new food packages and provide additional nutritious foods to WIC families. Expanding the WIC food packages will not only bolster the overall value of the WIC benefit but will also strengthen the nutrition standards responsible for WIC’s public health success.

  • WIC responded with communication, breastfeeding and formula support, and swift changes in the infant formula crisis.  “WIC families were disproportionately impacted by widespread shortages of infant formula in 2022, requiring unprecedented adjustments to the WIC benefit and resulting in an increase in the WIC breastfeeding rate. Providers addressed the immediate and long-term needs of families by expanding infant formula choices and increasing participant interest in sustained breastfeeding.

“Notably, 40.7% of WIC infants were breastfed in September 2022—an all-time program high. In the first seven months of the recall, WIC recorded a 14.6% increase in the total number of breastfed infants, including a 23.4% increase in those fully breastfed. WIC’s breastfeeding program is effective because it directly combats barriers–like a lack of knowledge, lactation issues, social attitudes shaped by infant formula marketing, lack of a support system, and unsupportive workplace environments–by providing professional lactation support and peer counseling.

“In the aftermath of last year’s infant formula shortages, we must build a more resilient national infant feeding infrastructure by dismantling systemic barriers to breastfeeding and reducing corporate influence in personal feeding decisions.

“For millions of parents, caregivers, and kids throughout the country, WIC is a lifeline during a critical stage in their family’s development. Yet only half of those eligible for the program are currently participating. We must recognize and fight the systemic barriers that have kept too many families from receiving the care they deserve.

“The State of WIC report outlines concrete steps that NWA, U.S. Congress, USDA and the broader WIC community can take to advance equitable access to quality nutrition education and resources. We are committed to expanding WIC’s tremendous public health successes and building a more innovative and accessible program that meets the evolving needs of women and families nationwide.”

Read the full report here.


The National WIC Association (NWA) is the nonprofit membership organization for State and local providers of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). NWA is the go-to voice of and for WIC staff at more than 12,000 WIC locations across the country who work to support more than 6.4 million mothers and young children. For over three decades, NWA has worked to build broad, bipartisan consensus for WIC’s programmatic goals and public health mission. NWA provides member-driven advocacy; education, guidance, and support to WIC staff; and drive innovation to strengthen WIC as we work toward a nation of healthier women, children, and their families. Learn more at