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. Review the following sections to learn about the additional resources available to you.
WIC VS. Food Stamps
You may be wondering the difference between SNAP vs. WIC and which program you should apply for. Considering that these programs typically have the same income guidelines, you should apply to both. While you may receive nutritious supplemental food and formula for you and your baby, WIC benefits may not be enough to feed your entire family. To qualify for the WIC program, you must be a child, infant or woman. Furthermore, there are certain age requirements for infants and children.
On the other hand, you may be eligible to receive SNAP benefits if you are in a low-income household, have the proper citizenship and meet work requirements. SNAP, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides food benefits to low-income individuals and families across the U.S. While the program’s requirements are more stringent, they are less exclusive than those of the WIC program. SNAP can provide benefits to both the men and women in your family that do not meet the categorical requirements set forth by WIC.
Unlike the WIC food list, SNAP allows you to purchase a variety of foods, including fast and easy processed foods. The WIC program may limit the types of foods you can purchase to fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, tofu and infant formulas. WIC does not allow you to purchase prepared and processed foods. By receiving benefits through WIC and SNAP program, you can gain access to valuable educational resources and non-food benefits.
For example, additional SNAP benefits include educational classes and pamphlets with healthy recipes that meet your budget. You can also use these recipes for foods on your WIC approved list. However, you may only receive health screening services and referrals to other government services through the WIC program. It may even refer you to the SNAP program. Download our guide to learn more about the types of the differences between WIC and SNAP.
WIC Infant Formula Rebate System
If you are in need of formula for your baby, the WIC Infant Formula Rebate System has got you covered. This program was created after WIC programs in various states did not have the funds to cover high-cost infant formulas for their recipients. The program operates by soliciting competitive bids from manufacturers that want to get their products out on shelves for both WIC participants and non-WIC participants to purchase. These bids offer infant formulas at an attractive low-cost price or rebate. The best offers are awarded a contract with WIC and are put on WIC approved formula lists.
For every can of WIC formula sold to participants, manufacturers provide rebates or cash back to the program. As a result, the program has enough funds to continue the distribution of formula vouchers to eligible women and infants. There are many federal regulations that govern the operations and contracts of these systems. For example, a brand of formula covered by WIC must create a soy-based formula as well for infants sensitive to cow’s milk.
You may be wondering “What formula does WIC cover?” There are a variety of different formulas you can purchase with your WIC voucher. Furthermore, you can receive your formula in several forms, including condensed liquid, powder and ready-to-eat formula. The form of formula you can receive will depend on your access to a safe water supply and refrigeration. While the most common form of WIC approved formula is iron-fortified infant formula, you may be eligible to receive a therapeutic formula prescription if your infant has certain medical conditions. In this case, you will need to provide proof of a medical diagnosis.
To learn more about the different types of infant formulas, download our comprehensive guide.
WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Plan (FMNP) is a subprogram of the WIC program. Those eligible to receive WIC vouchers can receive FMNP vouchers as well. These vouchers or coupons can be used at participating farmers’ markets and roadside food stands. This program further encourages the WIC program’s mission to provide women, infants and children with access to healthy and wholesome foods. The program supports local agriculture because these foods are fresh, nutritious and contain less preservatives compared to foods at chain grocery stores.
FMNP recipients may purchase a variety of unprepared vegetables, fruits and herbs to create delicious and healthy meals. The federal government provides funding to cover the costs of these foods, while state agencies are responsible for contributing the remaining administrative costs. State agencies decide which FMNP locations may authorize WIC vouchers. These locations then submit the vouchers or checks they receive to the appropriate bank or state agency for reimbursement. Eligible WIC FMNP participants can use these benefits to purchase their fruits and vegetables and use their remaining WIC benefits to purchase foods like infant formula, cereal, beans, etc.
To receive FMNP vouchers, women and children must meet WIC eligibility requirements. This means having a certain gross income, meeting residency requirements and being at nutritional risk. FMNP coupons are typically distributed to recipients once a year on a first-come, first-served basis in the span of a few months. Once the program has met its maximum caseload, those who are considered a top priority will receive their WIC FMNP benefits first.