AAEA Annual Meeting session looks at reducing the decline in WIC participation and improving program outcomes
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently uses an estimated 71 percent of its budget on nutrition assistance programs.
Right now the most public debate is over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP. However, changes to other programs are under consideration, including WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), which is the country’s third-largest food assistance program.
54 percent of infants, and 31 percent of children ages 1 to 5 are served by WIC. A report by the National Academies released earlier this year recommends modifications to the program as a whole.
“Any proposals to change the program are being made with the goal of providing nutrition to promote the well-being of pregnant women, infants and young children,” says Helen Jensen of Iowa State University. “We are looking at factors associated with participation in WIC and whether benefits are attractive enough to keep people enrolling in the program.”
Jensen, who is an internationally-known expert on food and nutrition policy, will lead a session entitled “Food Assistance Program Design in WIC: Mechanisms for Targeting Nutritional Needs” at the 2017 AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago July 30 – August 1.
“There is a lot of interest in food assistance programs both because of funding and because of the success and concerns of improving food security,” Jensen said. “Funding for WIC is tied to participation and since 2008 participation has fallen.”