The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a food and nutrition education program for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants and children under age five who are low-income (up to 185% of the Federal Poverty Level) and at nutritional risk. Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, medical and social service referrals, and supplemental foods to eligible families. WIC is a short-term intervention program designed to influence lifetime nutrition and health behaviors in this targeted, high-risk population. Nationwide, approximately 25% of the individuals served are women, 25% are infants and the remaining 50% are children ages one to five. WIC services are available in every state and US territory, and currently WIC services are delivered to over 9 million participants each month are considerably lower.
In Los Angeles County (LAC), WIC currently serves approximately 67% of all infants and about half of all children ages one to five, translating into approximately 600,000 individuals and 400,000 families each month. WIC organizations are devoted to improving nutrition and health among pregnant women and young children. The following seven local agency WIC Programs provide these services in LAC in over 90 sites virtually every low-income neighborhood across the County:
- Antelope Valley Hospital WIC Program
- City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services WIC Program
- Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute WIC Program
- Northeast Valley Health Corporation WIC Program
- Pasadena Public Health Department WIC Program
- PHFE WIC Program
- Watts Healthcare Corporation WIC Program
First 5 LA is a child advocacy organization created by California voters to invest tobacco tax revenues in programs for improving the lives of children in Los Angeles County, from pregnancy through age 5. First 5 LA champions health, education and safety causes concerning young children and families. For additional information about First 5 LA, its partners and projects, visit www.first5la.org.
WIC and First 5 LA: A Research Partnership
WIC regularly collects extensive information about WIC families in its administrative database, which is named WIC MIS system and includes socio-demographic and health information. In 2002, First 5 LA funded PHFE WIC to address the critical gap in information about low-income families in LAC. With the support of all 7 local agency WIC Programs and the California WIC Program, a system was created to electronically aggregate WIC MIS data across the County. This partnership also funded the Los Angeles County WIC Survey (2005, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017) to collect information to better understand health outcomes and factors associated with the well-being of WIC families. These two ventures have enabled the collection and examination of in-depth data about WIC families in Los Angeles County.