November 4, 2007
— For its work to promote nutrition among women, infants and children, the National WIC Association has been honored with the 2007 American Public Health Association (APHA) Presidential Citation.
The National WIC Association is a voluntary, non-profit membership organization that promotes quality nutrition services and advocates especially on behalf of women, infants and children and to provide oversight on the management of the federal WIC program. The association was founded in 1983 and represents 90 geographic, territorial and Native American state agencies and more than 2,000 local agencies that together provide nutrition education, breastfeeding support, health care and other referral services to more than 8 million at-risk women, infants and children.
The association has been successful in gaining bipartisan support for the federal WIC program and underscoring the need to provide quality nutrition to needy women and young children. A broad coalition now supports the association, including advocacy groups, health care and religious organizations, and the chief executive officers of several Fortune 500 corporations.
The association’s early advocacy efforts helped prevent WIC program funding from being slashed dramatically. In 1989, association members advocated for a food cost containment program that since then has generated more than $21 billion in non-tax revenues for the federal WIC program. When the program was at risk of being turned into one requiring block grant funding, the association mobilized a successful grass-roots effort to prevent that change.
While the federal WIC program pays for nutrient-rich foods for many who otherwise would not be eating balanced meals, food benefits have traditionally been light on fresh food and heavy on juices and high-fat dairy products. After a decade of advocacy, WIC food packages soon will include produce, meats, reduced fat dairy products, canned beans, whole grain foods and the introduction of soy beverages and products for lactose-intolerant mothers and children, a change that Executive Director Rev. Douglas A. Greenaway said is one of the association’s “most exciting successes.” He said the association’s efforts have helped the WIC program’s funding increase from about $2 billion in 1990 to more than $5 billion in 2007, allowing participation to grow from 4.5 million mothers, infants and children to more than 8.4 million.
APHA President Deborah Klein Walker, EdD, said the association “has been a major leader and advocate for improved maternal and child health in the United States.”