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.
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.
To qualify for WIC benefits, women and children must meet categorical, residential, income and nutrition risk requirements. For instance, these requirements include:
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.
|Annual Income 100% of FPL||Monthly Income 100% of FPL||Annual Income 185% of the FPL||Monthly Income 185% of the FPL|
|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:
100% of FPL
185% of the FPL
100% of the FPL
185% of the FPL
|Each additional family member||Add $5,400||Add $9,990||$4,970||Add $9,195|
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
|HI||1-888-820-6425||NH||1-800-942-4321||VI||340-718-1311 ext. 3148|
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.
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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