Are You Eligible for WIC?

May 7th 2016
The full name of the program commonly known as WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. WIC is a public health program under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture. While it is a discretionary-spending program covered by the USDA with funding levels set by Congress, WIC is administered at the state level. It was started as a pilot program in 1972 and, in 1974, operating in 45 states. Two years later, it was established as an ongoing program. 
WIC's Desired Outcomes
WIC's purpose is to help at-risk people with nutritional assistance and education. WIC attempts to achieve positive results by:
  • Reducing the number of premature births
  • Reducing the incidence of low-birth weight
  • Reducing fetal and infant deaths
  • Increasing access to prenatal care, especially early in pregnancy
  • Increasing immunization
  • Improving overall quality of diet for at-risk individuals
  • Increasing women's intake of key nutrients during pregnancy
  • Reducing the incidence of anemia
  • Increasing overall access to adequate health care.
Are You Eligible for WIC?
Initial Eligibility: The USDA offers a prescreening tool that can help you determine if you are eligible. It's not an application, but it does serve to inform potential applicants about how their situation fits into the program. There are several key requirements.
Categorical eligibility:
  • Women who are pregnant and up to six weeks after birth or end of pregnancy
  • Women who are breastfeeding, up to infant's first birthday
  • Infants up to the first birthday and children up to the 5th birthday
  • There are additional qualifications for children over the age of one year.
Residential eligibility: Applicants must live in the state in which they apply.
Income requirements: There are three different tables that list income levels, one for the lower 48 states, Guam, U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C., and separate tables for Alaska and Hawaii. A family of three can have an annual income up to $36,131 and qualify.
Nutritional risk: Applicants must be seen by a medical professional who will assess nutritional risk. This is often done at the WIC clinic itself. Height and weight are measured, and a blood test for anemia is taken. Other medical professionals can also refer patients. Nutritional risk is determined partly by whether a person has a medical or dietary condition that can impact outcomes WIC hopes to improve. The applicant must have one of the conditions listed at the state level to qualify. The easiest way to find out if a person qualifies is to schedule an appointment or ask a medical professional. 
What Does WIC Provide?
The program provides nutritional assistance by identifying foods that are likely to help those in need and then making lists of availability to individuals and grocery stores. People receiving WIC benefits will get informational pamphlets outlining what foods are covered. The approved-foods list varies by state or category. Generally, dairy products, breads and cereals, and fruits and vegetables are covered.
 WIC also offers extra assistance to mothers who choose to breastfeed. From breast pumps to longer certification times and a wider selection of food products, the program works to encourage mothers to breastfeed longer. If breastfeeding is not an option, WIC has an infant formula rebate program as well. 
To apply for WIC, contact your state office to locate the clinic nearest you or use the prescreening tool. Anyone who thinks they might qualify is encouraged to apply. WIC can provide vitally important dietary nutrients for people taking advantage of the program. 

More in category

Related Content