Participation in federal nutrition program in Illinois drops 26.4% over 5 years

The number of Illinois residents taking part in the federal nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) declined 26.4 percent from fiscal years 2015 to 2019, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service reported.

The participants receiving supplemental nutritional benefits numbered 247,594 in FY 2015, compared to 182,341 in FY 2019, a drop of 65,253. As a percentage of population, the decrease in Illinois was the fourth largest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

To qualify for WIC, pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children up to 5 years old, must not come from households whose incomes exceed 185 percent of the U.S. poverty threshold. For a family of four, a household cannot earn more than $47,638 annually to take part in the program.

Participants also must be deemed at “nutritional risk.” The risk may involve medical conditions such as being underweight or having anemia, or they can result from poor diet, according to the Food and Nutrition Service.

Nationwide, WIC participation declined 20.2 percent over the five-year period, from just over 8 million in FY 2015 to 6.4 million in FY 2019. That’s a drop of more than 1.6 million participants, according to federal data released in January.

WIC Participation Rates, State by State

StateFY 2015FY 2016FY 2017FY 2018FY 2019 (Preliminary)Participation Decrease, FY 2015 to FY 2019% Decrease, FY 2015 to FY 2019% Decrease RankWyoming10,99510,78310,1599,0627,9613,03427.6%1New Mexico55,23451,90249,97546,18740,48714,74726.7%2California1,265,0051,174,8751,080,2411,009,492929,173335,83226.5%3Illinois247,594225,159211,367199,360182,34165,25326.4%4South Carolina114,562107,25799,33292,15384,59629,96626.2%5Utah58,99556,58453,74848,98943,64615,34926.0%6Tennessee150,116143,730136,303127,814112,15537,96125.3%7Idaho40,50639,01036,52633,71731,0009,50623.5%8Georgia264,299253,653237,224217,695202,91561,38423.2%9Washington176,133168,878157,453145,015135,29740,83623.2%10Texas886,409859,819821,873746,246681,555204,85423.1%11Kansas62,85058,95554,13550,68148,53614,31422.8%12West Virginia41,70140,39138,31535,41232,6749,02721.6%13Virginia139,632132,404122,185113,952109,46930,16321.6%14Ohio244,201234,719221,746208,955192,57451,62721.1%15Missouri134,780127,551119,620114,323106,73328,04720.8%16Arkansas84,22080,55576,51973,60767,23116,98920.2%17Louisiana128,935127,387119,747112,362103,17025,76520.0%18Maine21,78120,80619,36418,32017,4754,30619.8%19New York471,869459,101435,382416,173378,94692,92319.7%20Nevada73,14470,46766,62562,53158,74414,40019.7%21Hawaii31,61630,11726,85626,11525,4156,20119.6%22Kentucky116,179111,926107,885101,74394,29621,88318.8%23Alaska19,68219,12118,18817,09215,9783,70418.8%24Oklahoma112,892110,725105,84698,55191,65021,24218.8%25District of Columbia14,52614,36313,58012,46611,8442,68218.5%26Pennsylvania245,979237,205226,060218,188202,16743,81217.8%27Vermont13,73312,75611,55811,42711,3212,41217.6%28Oregon98,30492,79289,53485,77481,22617,07817.4%29New Hampshire14,70514,12113,06412,33212,1632,54217.3%30Wisconsin105,504100,15295,95892,48787,66617,83816.9%31North Carolina248,860241,288230,660221,719207,35141,50916.7%32New Jersey161,664155,285147,937141,568134,93626,72816.5%33Minnesota119,403116,031111,121105,961100,12319,28016.1%34Michigan244,829234,546224,106213,964205,36439,46516.1%35Arizona167,072163,998153,510149,513141,95925,11315.0%36Montana18,47618,29617,44516,68215,7542,72214.7%37Maryland142,841139,576132,843128,542122,56920,27214.2%38South Dakota19,47419,12018,36717,66716,7302,74414.1%39Delaware18,99818,09717,16216,79716,3582,64013.9%40Rhode Island20,72820,37519,50118,95017,9622,76613.3%41Alabama132,133129,160123,993120,605115,41016,72312.7%42Mississippi89,44984,86783,85785,44979,10610,34311.6%43Florida483,811481,520468,867450,624429,37854,43311.3%44Connecticut51,29549,15547,83047,29745,7675,52810.8%45Indiana154,485147,906143,975143,730138,61115,87410.3%46Colorado90,95486,99984,58285,25881,9069,0489.9%47Nebraska37,60138,12537,44035,83333,9893,6129.6%48Massachusetts113,262114,419112,763108,593103,3159,9478.8%49Iowa63,48161,16361,99660,24958,0645,4178.5%50North Dakota12,41512,88412,72912,31311,4051,0108.1%51TOTAL8,023,7427,696,4397,286,1616,870,1286,400,2381,623,50420.2%–

Source: U.S. Food and Nutrition Service

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