The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (aka WIC) is an important program that all mothers of young children need to know about. This program provides free food for pregnant women, infants, and young children up to age five.
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What is WIC?
WIC stands for “Women, Infants and Children.” It’s an abbreviation of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
This federal program provides grants to state agencies, which are passed on to pregnant women and mothers of very young children. These funds are used to purchase nutritious foods, provide information on healthy eating and referrals to health care providers.
Who is eligible for WIC?
The WIC benefits program was designed to serve pregnant women and mothers of very young children. You may be eligible for WIC if:
- You are pregnant.
- You are breastfeeding.
- You are a non-breastfeeding postpartum woman.
- You have an infant.
- You have a toddler or child under age 5.
You also have to meet certain income guidelines. Specifically, you have to be at or below 185% of the US Poverty Income Guidelines. As of this publication, that’s $23,107 per year for a single person, $31,284 for a family of two or $47,638 for a family of four. For more information about the poverty guidelines, click here.
You will automatically qualify based on income if you are already participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
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You also have to meet a state residency requirement and be determined “nutritionally at risk” by a health professional. You can be deemed at risk based on anemia, underweight, maternal age, history of pregnancy complications, or poor pregnancy outcomes. You can also be considered at risk if you have diet-based risks.
If you think you are eligible, you can try this WIC pre-screening tool.
What does WIC provide?
Every month, WIC provides specific foods that are designed to provide important nutrients to WIC’s target population. These foods include:
- Infant cereal
- Iron-fortified adult cereal
- Fruit and vegetable juice
- Peanut butter
- Dried or canned beans/peas
- Canned fish
- Soy-based beverages
- Fruits and vegetables
- Baby foods
- Whole wheat bread
- Iron-fortified infant formula (for women who do not fully breastfeed)
How do I apply for WIC?
In order to apply for WIC, you will need to contact your local WIC agency. You can find your local agency here.
Where can I shop with WIC?
There are many places you can shop with WIC! Most major retailers are set up to take the WIC EBT cards.
If you are receiving WIC benefits, consider shopping at your local farmer’s market. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has authorized the WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program. This program provides $10-$30 per year in Farmer’s Market coupons to eligible WIC families. Those coupons can be redeemed at eligible farmer’s markets for fresh, nutritious produce.
What else do I need to know?
Your WIC benefits expire at the end of the month they are intended to be used in. If you do not use them, they will disappear at midnight on the last day of the month.