WIC Welfare Participation Hits 17Year Low
The data shows that WIC participation dropped to 7,283,000 in 2017, its lowest level since 2000 when 7,192,000 participated in the program.
WIC is a government grant-funded welfare program that provides food assistance to pregnant and nursing women, infants, and children up to five years of age, according to the USDA.
The program, which primarily focuses on nutrition, began as a pilot program in 1972 under the Nixon administration and became a permanent fixture of the U.S. welfare system in 1974.
Most WIC programs are administered at the state level, and states hand out vouchers that can be used at participating merchants to purchase food.
In 2000, WIC became the third-largest government-funded food assistance in terms of spending and made up 12 percent of government spending on food assistance welfare programs, according to a USDA report on WIC.
According to the report, the increase in WIC enrollment since 2000 can be attributed to an increase in congressional funding toward the program spurred by positive reviews of the welfare program from policy experts.
The amount the federal government spends per WIC recipient also hit its lowest level in ten years. According to the USDA data, the federal government spent an average of $41.31 in food costs for each WIC recipient in 2017.
The last time the government spent less money on each WIC recipient was in 2007 when it spent an average of $39.04 for each WIC recipient.
Government spending on WIC increased as of 2010 when former President Barack Obama was midway through his first term in office.