Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 30
Table 3: Percentage of Participants by Race and Ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino Non-Hispanic/Latino Ethnicity Not Reported
Total Participants (N)
American Indian or Alaska Native only
Black or African American only
Native Hawaiian or Other
Pacific Islander only
Two or more races
Race not reported
NOTE: Percentages may not add to 100.0, and subtotals may not add to totals, because of rounding.
Equity in WIC
Promoting equity is inherent in WIC’s purpose, which is to improve the nutrition of pregnant and postpartum women,
infants, and children who have low incomes. Evidence of its success is seen in improved health outcomes among millions of
women and children.115 Unfortunately, data is not disaggregated by race and ethnicity, so it is not possible to assess to what
extent the improvements are equitable across all demographic groups.
There is evidence from some communities that WIC has narrowed the divide between the infant mortality rates for African
Americans and whites. There is potential to improve state level and eventually national level statistics by replicating these
successes. In Hamilton County, Ohio, among non-WIC participants with incomes similar to WIC participants, 21 of every
1,000 African American babies born alive died before their first birthday (2.1 percent), compared with a rate of just under 8
white babies (0.78 percent).116
Participating in WIC reduced the risk of death among babies of both races, but the risks were reduced disproportionately
for African American babies. The WIC participants’ mortality rates over the same time period were 9.6 deaths per 1,000 live
births among African Americans and 6.7 deaths among whites.117 Though not yet equal, these death rates are far closer to
racially equitable than those of non-participants.
This is a summary of equitable aspects of WIC’s design:
1. WIC provides free health screenings that are tailored to individual participants. Information is collected based on
physical exams (e.g., height and weight), a hematology assessment118 to determine whether the person has iron deficiency,
and health histories that assess risks of complications such as premature birth. Screenings establish whether applicants are at
nutritional risk, as required for eligibility. Identifying actual and potential nutritional problems also makes it possible to treat
or prevent them. Conducting these screenings is an example of a racially equitable practice119 because the screenings prioritize
conditions that disproportionately affect people of color (examples include premature birth, low birth weight, and anemia120).
ts and fits.
S.-bor ed WIC ben
cent o omen receiv
In 2018 all pregnan
APPLYING RACIAL EQUITY TO U.S. FEDERAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: SNAP, WIC AND CHILD NUTRITION