Health Fact Sheets
What is WIC?
Congress funded the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in 1974 to help low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and children have the nutritious food they need for a good start toward a lifetime of health. WIC has become one of the most successful and cost-effective federally funded programs directed toward improving the health of its participants.
What does WIC provide?
The WIC program provides milk, cheese, eggs, juice, peanut butter, iron-fortified cereals, and infant formula to participants. Each WIC participant also receives nutrition education and counseling to learn how to use the food as part of a good daily diet and to improve their long-term health.
With national funding of $4 billion, WIC serves 7 million participants nationwide through 85 state agencies. In Tennessee, the WIC program serves 155,000 people through a $101 million grant administered by the Department of Health. An additional $34 million comes from an infant formula rebate contract with the Nestlé Company.
Who is eligible?
Pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to five years of age who meet income guidelines and have documented medical or nutritional needs are eligible. Individuals who receive food stamps, AFDC, or who are on TennCare at no cost are income eligible for WIC. Many individuals not receiving benefits from these programs may also qualify. The potentially eligible Tennessee population is approximately 200,000 people.
How does WIC make a difference in people's lives?
- Helps provide early entry into the health care system
- Supplies basic nourishing foods
- Educates how to choose healthy diets
- Gives breastfeeding mothers help and support
- Is associated with healthy newborn babies
- Links with other help in the community
- Encourages childhood immunizations
- Serves homeless participants with special food packages
How can I get additional information about WIC?
Call your local health department or 1-800-DIAL-WIC (342-5942). Applicants are given an appointment to come in for a health screening, or to bring current medical referral information from a local physician, outpatient clinic, or hospital. Or visit our department's WIC website by clicking here.