It's time to address the service gap in Illinois's WIC program.
March 1, 2019
In 2015, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supported only 43.5% of eligible Illinois families. Now is the time to address this service gap. This report recommends policy changes to increase usage, retention, and effectiveness of the WIC program in Illinois.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federally funded program, administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services, that helps women and their families access healthy foods, health care, nutrition education, and breastfeeding assistance and advice. Despite WIC’s proven success at reducing food insecurity and increasing healthier births and more positive developmental outcomes for children, in recent years WIC program participation and retention nationally and in Illinois has decreased.
In 2015 WIC supported only 43.5% of eligible pregnant women, mothers, and children, and Illinois was ranked 44th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in WIC coverage. With a new state administration incoming for 2019, and the WIC transition to Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) scheduled for 2020, now is the time to address this service gap. The State of Illinois should improve the WIC program by implementing the policy changes recommended in this report. In partnership with the WIC administration, the authoring agencies hope to increase usage, retention, and effectiveness of the WIC program through policy change.
Systemic inequities and the legacy of structural racism make it harder for low-income people and people of color to achieve financial stability.