Presenter: Jay Hirschman1

WIC was conceived as a national program during the White House Conference on Nutrition in 1969 and was first operated as a pilot program under a different name beginning in 1972. Since then, it has grown to serve more than one-third of all pregnant women, half of all infants, and 30 percent of all children younger than 5 years of age in the United States. Figure 1-1 illustrates the program’s steady growth.

Hirschman said that USDA is seeking the best ideas and most important research questions relating to the impacts of WIC in its current form and in potential future forms, being respectful of funding realities regarding benefits. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, WIC received up to $15 million for studies and evaluations, and the President’s budget request for FY 2011 asks for a similar amount. These amounts are substantially higher than those received in previous years.

WIC is intended to foster growth and development among those U.S. women, infants, and children with the lowest incomes and greatest need. It does so through a regular supply of nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals. Over the years, WIC has relied on scientifically based research and evaluations to guide policy development and provide justification for improved program coverage. Nonetheless, because a wide variety of changes have occurred in WIC and in the environment in which WIC operates (see Box 1-1), Hirschman said a new program of research is needed to provide a basis for adapting and improving WIC.

Hirschman asked that all attendees consider the information presented at the workshop and then submit to the workshop website hosted by the Institute of Medicine their recommendations and rationale for three projects that should receive funding priority.


Presenter: Reverend Douglas Greenaway

The National WIC Association (NWA) recognizes, Greenaway said, that the scientific evidence supporting the benefits of WIC is outdated; and NWA welcomes the support for WIC research provided by the 111th


Hirschman expressed thanks to Congress; the National WIC Association; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; all WIC’s partners at the state, territorial, tribal, and local levels; vendors; food manufacturers; and many others for helping make WIC one of the best programs that the nation has to offer.

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