NCDHHS celebrates 50th anniversary of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for women, infants and children



Compiled by Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

RALEIGH — This year, North Carolina is celebrating 50 years of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC.

WIC significantly impacts the lives of more than 230,000 women, infants and children in North Carolina annually by providing access to supplemental healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding education, and support and referrals for health care and social services. The program is also a major contributor to North Carolina’s economy, infusing almost $200 million in federal funds into North Carolina as families purchased approved items at more than 1,500 food retailers in the last state fiscal year alone.   

“WIC supports half of all infants born in North Carolina by providing access to the best resources and services for mothers and children,” said Yvonne Copeland, Director of the NCDHHS Division of Child and Family Well-Being. “This year, we recognize an incredible milestone in the evolution of maternal and child health care with the 50th anniversary of the WIC program. Since the opening of the first clinic in 1974, WIC has been an unwavering beacon of support committed to improving public health outcomes for women, infants and children.”

“The WIC program has been instrumental in ensuring that mothers, babies, and young children have the necessary food and support for a healthy start,” emphasized Yvonne Copeland. “Over the years, USDA evaluations have consistently shown that women who participate in WIC have improved pregnancy and birth outcomes, leading to healthier babies. Additionally, children who receive WIC benefits have demonstrated enhanced intellectual development, equipping them for a successful start in school.”

In 1974, WIC provided supplemental food to 88,000 people in America whose average food benefit was $15.88 per month. In its 50-year history, the program has grown exponentially.  In 2023, WIC provided food for 6.6 million women, infants, and children nationally, whose average food benefit was $56 per month.  WIC Food Benefits provides a wide range of foods including fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals and dairy products and the monetary value of the benefits can reach up to $240 monthly.

WIC is available to pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5. Foster families with qualifying individuals may also be eligible to receive WIC benefits. To be eligible, NC WIC participants must live in North Carolina and meet WIC Income Guidelines by having a family income of less than 185% of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines (e.g., less than $57,720 annual income for a family of four). Those who are receiving Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (also known as Work First), or NC Food and Nutrition Services automatically meet WIC Income Guidelines.

If you or someone you know could benefit from the WIC program, we encourage you to visit for more information on how to apply for WIC benefits. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to ensure a healthy start for you and your family. 

Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 
This reporter can be reached at

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