EverThrive Illinois leads the Making WIC Work Coalition so that more women, children, and families can get health and nutrition services that allow them to thrive.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, often called WIC, has provided healthy food, breastfeeding support, and health services for families since 1972. WIC has been instrumental in reducing food insecurity, especially for kids.
However, participation in WIC is declining across the country and in Illinois. In 2015 just 43.5% of people who were eligible for the program were enrolled in our state; putting us 44th among the 50 states and DC for WIC coverage.
EverThrive Illinois convenes the Making WIC Work Coalition to bring together partners, those who run WIC sites, and current and former program participants to understand what families need to care for their families and how WIC can better support them.
We published the landmark Making WIC Work report in 2019, offering dozens of recommendations for making the program more appealing to those who are eligible and making enrollment easier for families–and its making a difference!
As a result of our advocacy, in the last two years the State of Illinois has:
- Eliminated a discriminatory coupon system which has limited access to food for mostly black and brown families in Chicago for more than 20 years;
- Offered more choices so people shopping with WIC can redeem their benefits for a wider variety of foods;
- Provided updated guidance so that all WIC sites provide consistent services and implement streamlined application procedures; and
- Adapted quickly to provide flexibility in WIC enrollment and redemption of benefits so families can care for themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.