Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

WIC is a short-term food assistance program that benefits low-income women, infants and children, especially those who have a severe nutritional need, such as those living in extreme poverty.

For instance, the program helps to supplement the diets of underweight children or breastfeeding women and their infants. To qualify for benefits under this program, however, applicants must meet several eligibility requirements, including categorical, residential, income and nutrition risk requirements. Then, applicants must apply through the WIC office in the state in which they reside if they wish to obtain benefits under this program.

Under the WIC program, qualifying beneficiaries receive vouchers for purchasing nutritious foods for their households, and benefits such as nutrition counseling and referrals to other assistance programs. While program benefits may vary by state, most states provide beneficiaries with vouchers that can be used to purchase eligible food items from grocery stores. Today, around 46,000 retailers accept these vouchers throughout the U.S. To learn more about the program, review the information below.

What is the WIC program?

WIC benefits are available to supplement the diets of low-income women, infants and children. Commonly known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, this food assistance program helps to improve the health of low-income women and children who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. If women and children qualify for participation in the program, they receive vouchers or checks that can be used to purchase eligible food items from grocery stores and other retailers throughout the country.

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For instance, the WIC food list includes items such as fortified cereals, fruits and vegetables, foods for babies and infants, fortified juices, whole grains, whole wheat bread, tofu, peanut butter, milk, yogurt, cheese, soy milk, dried or canned beans and peas, eggs, and canned fish. If infants are not breastfed, beneficiaries will receive iron-fortified infant formulas as well. In some cases, beneficiaries with serious medical needs may receive additional food items. However, other program benefits include nutrition and breastfeeding counseling services, health and immunization screenings and referrals to other types of providers.

Moreover, the Women, Infants, and Children program operates in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Currently, 34 Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) also participate in the program.

Note: Beginning October 1, 2020, WIC beneficiaries will receive an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. Instead of using paper vouchers or checks to purchase eligible food items, beneficiaries will be able to use their EBT card at participating retailers.

What are the WIC eligibility requirements?

To qualify for WIC benefits, women and children must meet categorical, residential, income and nutrition risk requirements. For instance, these requirements include:

  • Categorical. To obtain benefits under this food assistance program, applicants must be women, infants or children. The program supplements the diets of infants until they turn one year of age, children who are five years of age or younger and pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women. For instance, WIC assists pregnant women throughout the entire term of their pregnancy, up to six weeks after they give birth. Additionally, postpartum women may obtain these benefits for up to six months after giving birth to a baby. Breastfeeding women, however, may obtain these benefits until their infant turns one year of age.
  • Residential. To obtain Women, Infants, and Children benefits, applicants must reside in the state in which they apply. Additionally, applicants may need to meet the eligibility requirements of their State Agency or ITO, as these requirements may vary throughout the U.S. However, applicants who wish to obtain these benefits do not need to reside in a state or service area for a minimum amount of time.
  • Income. To be eligible for WIC, women, infants and children must reside in a household with an income that falls between 100 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level. However, certain applicants may automatically meet these income requirements if they qualify to receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or if another family member is eligible for Medicaid or TANF benefits. In some states, applicants may qualify if they participate in other assistance programs as well.
  • Nutrition risk. To meet these Women, Infants, and Children eligibility requirements, applicants must visit a health care professional to undergo a medical screening. During the screening, the medical professional will determine whether patients have a dietary or medical-based condition. Dietary-based conditions may include poor diet, while medical-based conditions include malnourishment, anemia or a low weight.

What are the WIC program income eligibility requirements?

To qualify for the Women, Infants, and Children program, applicants must reside in a household with an income that falls within 100 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). To learn more about these income requirements for the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and U.S. territories, refer to the following chart.

Household

Size

Annual Income 100% of FPL Monthly Income 100% of FPL Annual Income 185% of the FPL Monthly Income 185% of the FPL
1 $12,140 $1,012 $22,459 $1,872
2 $16,460 $1,372 $30,451 $2,538
3 $20,780 $1,732 $38,443 $3,204
4 $25,100 $2,092 $46,435 $3,870
5 $29,420 $2,452 $54,427 $4,536
6 $33,740 $2,812 $62,419 $5,202
7 $38,060 $3,172 $70,411 $5,868
8 $42,380 $3,532 $78,403 $6,534
Each additional family member Add $4,320 Add $360 Add $7,992 Add $666

 

Annual WIC eligibility income requirements for states such as Alaska and Hawaii are as follows:

Household

Size

Alaska

 100% of FPL

Alaska

 185% of the FPL

Hawaii

100% of the FPL

Hawaii

 185% of the FPL

1 $15,180 $28,083 $13,960 $25,826
2 $20,580 $38,073 $18,930 $35,021
3 $25,980 $48,063 $23,900 $44,215
4 $31,380 $58,053 $28,870 $53,410
5 $36,780 $68,043 $33,840 $62,604
6 $42,180 $78,033 $38,810 $71,799
7 $47,580 $88,023 $43,780 $80,993
8 $52,980 $98,013 $48,750 $90,188
Each additional family member Add $5,400 Add $9,990 $4,970 Add $9,195

 

How to Apply for WIC

To apply for the WIC program, applicants must contact their State Agency to schedule an in-person appointment. Applicants cannot apply for WIC online, as applications must be submitted in person at a participating clinic or office. To schedule an appointment, applicants may refer to the following chart to find the contact information for their local office:

State Telephone Number State Telephone Number State Telephone

Number

AL 1-888-942-4673 KY 1-800-462-6122 OK 1-888-655-2942
AK 907-465-3100 LA 1-800-251-2229 OR 1-800-723-3638
AZ 1-800-252-5942 MA 1-800-942-1007 OH 1-800-755-4769
AR 1-800-462-0599 MD 1-800-242-4942 PA 1-800-942-9467
CA 1-888-942-9675 ME 1-800-437-9300 PR 787-766-2805
CO 1-800-688-7777 MI 1-800-942-1636 RI   1-800-942-7434
CT 1-800-741-2142 MN 1-800-657-3942 SC 1-800-922-4406
DE 1-800-222-2189 MS 1-800-545-6747 SD 1-800-738-2301
DC 1-800-345-1942 MO 1-800-392-8209 TN 1-800-342-5942
FL 1-800-342-3556 MT 1-800-433-4298 TX 1-800-942-3678
GA 1-800-228-9173 NE 1-800-942-1171 UT 1-877-942-5437
GU 671-735-7180 NV 1-800-863-8942 VT 1-800-649-4357
HI 1-888-820-6425 NH 1-800-942-4321 VI 340-718-1311 ext. 3148
ID 1-877-456-1233 NJ 1-800-328-3838 VA 1-888-942-3663
IL 1-800-323-4769 NM 1-866-867-3124 WA 1-800-841-1410
IN 1-800-522-0874 NY 1-800-522-5006 WV 304-558-0030
IA 1-800-532-1579 NC 1-800-367-2229 WI 1-800-722-2295
KS 1-800-332-6262 ND 1-800-472-2286 WY 1-800-994-4769

 

Note: When contacting a local WIC office, the representative will provide applicants with a list of documents and information that will be needed during the in-person appointment.

How long can you obtain WIC benefits?

Since WIC is a short-term food assistance program, eligible applicants may only obtain these benefits for a limited amount of time. Known as the certification period, women and children typically qualify to receive these benefits from anywhere between six months and one year. At the end of the certification period, beneficiaries will “graduate” from the program, but they may reapply if they wish to continue their benefits.

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