Population Characteristics

Women and Federal Program Participation

Federal programs can provide low-income women and their families with essential help in obtaining food and income support. The Federal Food Stamp Program helps low-income individuals purchase food: in 2004, 68 percent of all adult Food Stamp participants were women. Nearly half of women participants were in the 18-35 age group.

The Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) also plays an important role in serving women and families by providing supplementary nutrition during pregnancy, the postpartum period, and while breastfeeding. Most WIC participants (76 percent) are infants and children; however, the program also serves over 1.9 million women, representing 24.5 percent of WIC participants. From 1992 to 2004, the number of adult women participating in WIC increased by 57 percent, and it continues to rise.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a Federal- and State-funded program that provides cash assistance and work opportunities to needy families. In 1996, TANF replaced the national welfare program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and related initiatives. The overarching goals of TANF are to move recipients into work and turn welfare into a program of temporary assistance with a lifetime maximum enrollment of 5 years. In Fiscal Year 2002, the last year for which data are available, adult TANF recipients numbered 1.3 million, of whom 1.2 million (over 90 percent) were women.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.