From 2018 to 2022, there was a roughly 25% decline in participation in Pennsylvania’s WIC program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. WIC helps low income pregnant and breastfeeding parents and children under age five afford food.
A report from Thriving PA looked into the barriers that are keeping people from participating and staying in this program. One of the main issues was the requirement that benefits be reloaded in person, rather than through an online system. There were also complaints about the in-store experience for those families using WIC.
Maggie Livelsberger, policy director for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children helped create the report. Livelsberger says the first priority for the state is moving to an online system that allows families to reload their benefits remotely.
“Unfortunately, right now we’re only reaching about 50% of the eligible population for WIC across Pennsylvania,” says Livelsberger. “We have a considerable amount of people that are still eligible to participate, and we would like to see those [participation] numbers go to 100%.”