Skip to main content

State Fact Sheets: Trends in WIC Coverage and Participation

The federally funded WIC program — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — improves lifetime health for low-income pregnant and postpartum people, their infants, and young children, but only about half of those eligible participate.

WIC coverage rates vary widely by geography and participant group. In 2021, state coverage rates ranged from 34.6 to 71.6 percent (Puerto Rico’s coverage rate was 88.4 percent). Pregnant people and children aged 1 through 4 are most likely to miss out, along with eligible people living in non-metropolitan areas. More than half of WIC-eligible people receiving Medicaid or SNAP did not access WIC, despite being automatically income-eligible, with more than 4 in 5 WIC-eligible pregnant Medicaid enrollees missing out. Although eligible Hispanic and Black people participate at higher rates than eligible white people, more than 40 percent of Hispanic people and more than half of eligible Black people miss out.

State variation suggests that state policies and practices can affect WIC utilization. Increasing WIC coverage across the board — and for pregnant people of color and their infants in particular — can be an important part of a strategy to improve pregnancy-related and child health, mitigate the large pregnancy-related health disparities affecting these communities, and advance racial equity in other aspects of pregnancy-related and child health and food security.

In the map below, click on a state for a fact sheet showing WIC coverage rates and participation over time and for various categories, along with maternal and child health measures and an estimate of the additional funding the state would have received with a higher coverage rate.