Families are still eligible for WIC with earnings at 185% of the poverty level, which accounts for the high percentage of eligible families. WIC buys around half of infant formula, so the high level of infant formula use should come as no surprise. While formula is necessary for some people, and WIC is supposed to encourage breast-feeding, there appears to be little motivation to breast feed for WIC participants, since the baby formula is free. The state contracts are to (a) certain provider (s), which means that if there is a production problem by the contractor then it would particularly impact WIC dependent users. Such has been the case with the Abbott recall.
Abbott appears to have a near monopoly on WIC: “Abbott Nutrition is the exclusive supplier for the majority of state WIC agencies, and this has a serious impact on families served by WIC – over 1.2 million infants served by WIC are limited to specific brands of “contract formula,” like Similac.” (US Congresswoman DeLauro)
“Infants eligible for and receiving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are less likely to ever be breastfed (76.9%) than infants eligible, but not receiving WIC (83.3%), and infants ineligible for WIC (91.6%).”https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/facts.html This is “ever” breast fed with the percentage dropping over time. In 2020, by three months only 1/3rd of WIC participants were breast feeding (32.6), which dropped to 1/5th ( 22.1) by 6 months. https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/resource-files/WICPC2020-Appendix.pdfNotes on WIC Contracts, Baby Formula Use, and Baby Formula Recall; Sharing the Economic Burden: Who Pays for WIC’s Infant Formula | Mining Awareness +