You may have heard about a special supplemental program called WIC, but may not understand exactly what it is or what it does. WIC stands for Women, Infants, & Children. It’s a supplemental food and nutrition program for pregnant women, new moms, and children under 5 years of age. If you’re pregnant and you are working out the details of your finances, this might be something to consider. Women and children receive counseling on healthy eating, financial assistance in purchasing nutritious food, and mothers receive breastfeeding support. The program also gives referrals to healthcare and other community resources.
WIC is mainly known for the checks and vouchers they give their participants to purchase food at their local grocery store. You can buy eggs, fortified cereals, milk, cheese, dried beans, lentils, canned vegetables and other healthy items. You can use these vouchers at farmer’s markets to buy fruits and vegetables. But that’s not all WIC provides. The program strongly encourages women to breastfeed. They provide ongoing education, support, and enhanced food packages for breastfeeding mothers. They also provide breastfeeding supplies such as breast pumps. If a woman cannot breastfeed, the program can provide vouchers for certain types of formula.
If you are pregnant or recently gave birth you may be eligible for assistance. WIC will provide assistance during a woman’s pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after giving birth or after the pregnancy has ended. New mothers can receive assistance up to 6 months after the baby is born. Infants are eligible up to their 1st birthday. While children can receive assistance up to their 5th birthday.
There is an income requirement to be eligible. Your gross income must be at or below the US poverty income guidelines for eligibility. Contact your local WIC office to verify your state’s income restrictions. Even if you don’t think you meet this requirement make sure to apply anyway. Certain individuals and families may automatically qualify if they are enrolled in Medicaid, TANF, or other state programs.
How to Apply
In order to apply you must contact your local WIC office and schedule an appointment. Generally, you will need to bring proof of pregnancy (if pregnant), proof residency, proof of income, and a valid ID. Verify with your local office which types of documentation are specifically required.
Is this program for me?
If you are worried about whether you qualify or not, still apply. You never know and you might be surprised by the answer you receive. Don’t count yourself out just yet. Even if you are early in your pregnancy, don’t hesitate to apply. If you are considering adoption or abortion you should still apply for assistance. If you are approved you will receive assistance up to 6 weeks after giving birth or after the pregnancy has ended.
This program also helps women, infants, and children who are at a nutritional risk. Medically-based & diet-based risks are the two major types of nutritional risks recognized by WIC. Medically-based risks refer to anemia, being underweight, maternal age, history of pregnancy complications, or poor pregnancy outcomes. Insufficient diet patterns fall under the diet-based risk category. Not eating enough fruits & vegetables, high intake of sugary foods, or a lack of vitamins & minerals are a few examples of an insufficient diet pattern. Your health care provider can determine if you are at nutritional risk. If you think you are a nutritional risk make sure to contact your doctor. Your doctor will give you the documentation needed to take with you to the WIC office. You should contact your local WIC office for further questions or if you think you fall under any of the guidelines mentioned above.