BEYOND THE NUMBERS
WIC and SNAP Feed Kids and Support Learning
Research has shown that poverty during early childhood can have lifelong consequences for children’s physical, mental, and economic well-being. But SNAP (formerly food stamps) and The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (known as WIC) are helping to keep kids fed — and supporting their classroom performance, as I explain on Real Clear Policy’s blog.
WIC’s positive effects extend to learning. New research links prenatal participation in WIC with improved cognitive development and academic performance. Children whose mothers participated in WIC while pregnant scored higher on assessments of mental development at age two than similar children whose mothers didn’t participate. And the benefit lasted into the school years, as children whose mothers participated in WIC while pregnant performed better on reading assessments.
SNAP also boosts kids’ school performance. . . . A study of what happened when SNAP (then known as food stamps) gradually expanded nationwide in the 1960s and early 1970s found that disadvantaged children who’d had access to food stamps in early childhood and whose mothers had had access during pregnancy had better health and educational outcomes in adulthood than children without access. Among other things, children with access to food stamps were less likely in adulthood to have heart disease or be obese. They also were likelier to graduate from high school.