Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Assistance Program


By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by USDA via Flickr
Original Image by USDA via Flickr

Motherhood is no small task.  The government recognizes the expenses and need for nutrition education for expectant mothers, new mothers, those breastfeeding mothers and parents with children under 5 years old.

Run under the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA, WIC now serves 53% of all infants born in America.

WIC “provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.”

Requirements for Eligibility:

  1. Categorical Requirement: 
    1. Women: 
      1. Pregnant: During pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth 
      2. Postpartum: Up to 6 months after birth 
      3. Breastfeeding: up to child’s first birthday 
    2. Infants: 
      1. up to 1 year of age 
    3. Children: 
      1. up 5 years of age
  2. Residential Requirement: 
    1. Must live in state one’s applying for help 
    2. Not required to live in State and Local service area for certain amount of time to meet residency need
  3. Income Requirement: 
    1. must be between 100-185% of federal poverty income
    2. Automatic Income Eligibility: 
      1. Some automatically meet WIC requirements, if they are part of other assistance programs (i.e. Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
      2. Some recipient’s income can be determined at state agency option
  4. Nutrition Risk Requirement: 
    1. Must be screened to be determined if one’s at nutritional risk 
    2. Nutrition risk: medical based or dietary based condition (i.e. poor diet)
    3. Blood work may be done to check for anemia
The WIC Prescreening Tool is used to determine one’s eligibility for WIC benefits. The process assesses one’s income, unemployment benefits, child support, etc.  State agencies are responsible for distributing benefits and determining participant eligibility.
Benefits and Services:
  • Supplemental Food:Items provided: formula, juice, milk, breakfast cereal, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread, brown rice, canned fish, tofu, soy milk, legumes, peanut butter, and medical supplies
    • Food checks or EBT cards are distributed to users to buy food
  • Nutrition Education: free classes are offered to help learn about health prevention and strategies
  • Access to healthcare and social services: i.e. prenatal programs, immunizations, child clinics, and/or drug and alcohol treatment programs
  • Breastfeeding support: Certified Lactation Educators provide techniques and explain the benefits
There’s always a helping hand for those in need.  The USDA’s website on the assistance program can give one a better idea if they fulfill the eligibility requirements.  One shouldn’t have to fret about providing nutritious meals and care to their new born infants and children.

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