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WIC, also known as Women, Infants and Children, is a federal supplemental nutrition program for low-income women and children under 5 years of age. Since the creation of the program, WIC has shown to reduce infant mortality rates and premature births. Government studies have also proved that women who benefit from WIC have safer pregnancies, and children who are enrolled see improved grades at school and better mental health.

Though the program is called Women, Infants and Children, all families can benefit from WIC. Parents, foster parents, step-parents and legal guardians are encouraged to apply for WIC to collect benefits, schedule health appointments for their children and attend nutrition classes. So long as applicants have a child of the appropriate age and an annual income that fits the income limits, caretakers may apply for WIC regardless of gender.

WIC assistance comes in several forms. Beneficiaries receive cash allowance to purchase authorized healthy foods, including wheat bread, iron-fortified baby formula, cheese and yogurt. In addition to healthy food grants, WIC offers nutritional education resources and references to health services and other government support programs. Local clinics, hospitals and schools may offer WIC health services for children.

Like other national food programs, WIC is federally-funded but distributed to applicants by a state WIC office. There are 90 state offices that administer the WIC program, and benefits can be used at participating retailers and farmers markets. To learn more about whether you are eligible for WIC and the types of aid you can claim, make review program requirements and benefits.

WIC 101

The WIC program, or Women, Infants and Children, is a federally-funded supplemental nutrition assistance program for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, children and infants. Similar to SNAP, WIC distributes food benefits monthly. Also like food stamps, applicants can use their benefits at any participating WIC store. However, the program goals and eligibility requirements for WIC are so different that a family could claim both SNAP and WIC at the same time. Get detailed information about WIC in our comprehensive program guide.

The WIC program functions by allowing participants to do their own shopping but only for authorized healthy foods that will bolster the nutritional needs of the family. The WIC food list is restricted to health food because WIC is designed to support the health and wellness of women and children. Government studies show that this program is effective in improving the health of participants. WIC is proven to reduce infant mortality rates, premature births and iron deficiencies in children. It has also been shown to increase the birth weights of newborns, the length of pregnancy for women and the performance of children in schools. In addition to the health benefits of WIC, WIC food and vouchers have even been shown to save new parents some money on health costs in their infant’s first year. Read More

After You Apply for WIC

After they apply for WIC services at a WIC center, applicants will find out whether they are approved or denied at the end of their appointment. This is because there is no extended review period, as applicants’ eligibility for WIC benefits is determined during the WIC appointment. Those who are denied may follow the appeals process and possibly have their denial reconsidered. However, applicants who are approved will most likely have questions about what comes next. You can learn more about what to expect after applying for WIC in our in-depth guide.

After approval, recipients will either receive a limited-time voucher or a WIC EBT card depending on what their state offers. They will have a set allowance and be able to purchase only certain nutrient-rich foods. Applicants whose WIC application was denied will receive WIC’s decision in writing and be given the option to appeal. After receiving benefits, participants can also have their benefits revoked for various reasons. Participants who have had their benefits revoked are also allowed to appeal the decision. Read More

Additional Resources

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly referred to as the WIC program, offers supplemental foods and medical care referrals to eligible, low-income applicants who are determined to be at nutritional risk. While these beneficiaries can receive access to fresh and nutritious foods, there are other subprograms funded by WIC that offer additional benefits. Furthermore, those who qualify for WIC typically qualify for SNAP benefits as well. Applying to SNAP gives WIC recipients access to more foods that are not on the WIC food list. This may be beneficial for members of the family who do not qualify for WIC.

Additional programs funded by WIC include the WIC Infant Formula Rebate System and the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). These programs further increase access to nutritious foods and infant formulas to WIC participants. Receiving benefits through these programs is fairly simple. Once you qualify for one, you typically qualify for all the others. Read More

WIC Information by State

The WIC program, also known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, is a federal program that provides grants to states so that they can provide impoverished residents with the nutrition they need to reach their full potential. Those who meet WIC eligibility requirements can receive a variety of benefits at their local WIC office, including supplemental foods and health care referrals. To receive these benefits, residents must learn how to apply for WIC in their states. Additionally, they must be aware of their state agency’s income eligibility requirements.

Depending on their state, residents may be able to complete the WIC application process through several different methods. However, most states require that residents make a WIC appointment at a nearby clinic to determine if they meet nutritional risk requirements. Furthermore, there are a variety of different program delivery methods that vary by state. While some residents may receive their food benefits directly to their homes, others will need to visit participating vendors and shop for approved foods. Read More