Acceptance into the WIC nutrition program involves successfully completing an interview with a representative through a WIC appointment. These appointments are the equivalent to an application for most other state and federal services. WIC does not allow online application submissions, so the only way to complete one is in person. During the WIC appointment, an employee will review eligibility requirements for WIC and determine if applicants are able to receive nutrition assistance through the WIC program. Determination criteria is based on several factors formulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services.
Appointments are held at WIC offices. There, applicants are asked about their health and nutrition information and habits, verified for income and residency qualifications and screened for other eligibility criteria. At the appointment for certification, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children younger than 5 years of age are assessed for their eligibility based on the income of the household and whether they are nutritionally at risk. A nutritional risk is identified through a health screening that examines an applicant’s health status and nutrition habits.
Scheduling a WIC Appointment
Applicants may be able to schedule a WIC appointment in a few ways, depending on the state. Many states only allow applicants to make appointments for benefits by phone, although some may offer appointment scheduling by email. Most offices and agencies supply phone numbers for prospective applicants to call and set up an appointment. Interview appointments can also be arranged at a WIC agency. Many offices permit applicants to set up an interview date and time directly with a representative in person. Applicants may not be able to make a WIC appointment online in most states. Currently, many WIC agencies to do not permit nor have an online appointment system in place. Some states, like Massachusetts, offer online appointment requests.
Some WIC centers permit next-day appointments or even same-day appointments, but it is important to check with the local agency to make sure. These offices are also able to make special accommodations for the day of the WIC interview such as providing an interpreter or another method of communication for those who have hearing or vision difficulties.
What to Expect at a WIC Appointment
An initial WIC appointment can take 30 minutes to two hours to complete depending on the office, location, the amount of other participants present and whether or not the office is operating according to schedule. Applicants are encouraged to bring to bring snacks, toys, extra diapers and anything else necessary to keep infants and children comfortable during their WIC office visit.
When applicants first come in to a WIC clinic, they often must first check in. Once they are signed in, they may or may not have to wait for their case worker, counselor or nurse to be ready for them. Other than submitting important application documents, detailed below, some applicants may have to undergo measurements and tests as part of their health screening during their WIC appointment. This is because applicants must qualify as a nutritional risk and certain body measurements and blood test results reveal that risk.
Accepted applicants receive their nutrition benefits that day. So, although the WIC interview seems intensive, applicants do not have to wait much longer than the length of the interview to find out if they qualify for benefits. This is the case unless the applicant does not bring all of his or her documents to their WIC appointment. However, some WIC offices do accept some applicants as long as they supply any missing information within a certain amount of time. Accepted applicants will be given a food voucher that will permit them to purchase nutritious foods until their next appointment. Depending on the WIC office, participants may receive an EBT card instead. They will also receive nutrition counseling and be provided other resources and materials to improve their health and nutrition or that of their child. Qualified participants will also be asked to make another follow-up appointment to continue receiving benefits.
How Often to Make A WIC Appointment
Participants are told to make a follow-up WIC appointment once they are accepted into the nutrition program. Some participants must come in more often than others though. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women must come back to a WIC office must be recertified once their child is born. Then, the infant must be recertified at around six months. To find out more about WIC recertification, program beneficiaries can download our free guide.
Typically, participants must be recertified yearly but are required to follow-up every few months to receive updated benefits. Infants, children and pregnant women are also typically measured and tested at these WIC appointments, especially if they do not have medical records. Follow-up interviews are typically much shorter than initial certification interviews and are not as in depth. However, parents and guardians should still come prepared with supplies for children.
What to Bring to a WIC Appointment
Applicants must bring several documents with them to their WIC appointment. Since there is no mail-in, fax or online submission system, applicants must be prepared with all the necessary paperwork and verification documents.
First and foremost, applicants must provide a form of identification for every member in the household who is applying during the WIC interview. So, for a child or infant that could be a birth certificate or crib card from the hospital. Adults have many other options for providing an ID besides a driver’s license. Applicants must also provide proof of income or participation in another government program at their WIC appointment. Qualifying documents include pay stubs, child support payments, food stamps letters or Medicaid cards, among other documents.
Besides supplying income and identification evidence, applicants are asked to provide immunization and medical records and proof of pregnancy. While these documents are not required, they do allow for a smoother process because the WIC office will not have to complete medical checks in person. Pregnant women do have to supply a sonogram or written note from a doctor. Medical records, too, must be signed by a doctor and provide certain body measurements and blood test results. To learn more about the specific documents necessary to bring to a WIC appointment, applicants can download the free and comprehensive guide.