Learn About WIC in California
California WIC is an assistance program for low-income women, infants and children who are at nutritional risk due to a medical or dietary condition. There are numerous benefits of the program, including nutrition information that is tailored to beneficiaries, breastfeeding support and special checks that can be used to purchase healthy foods that are essential to growth and development. You can apply at a WIC office by scheduling an appointment and presenting the documentation that will be required to process your application during your scheduled appointment. Therefore, it is important to learn more about that initial appointment and prepare properly in order to ensure that you have the necessary information and documentation.
Before applying for the WIC program, it is important to familiarize yourself with the program’s eligibility requirements, including the groups of individuals who may be able to receive benefits. This program has very specific requirements, including nutrition risk, which must be met before benefits can be issued.
What are the WIC requirements in California?
It is important to learn about the eligibility requirements of the WIC program in order to determine whether or not you or your children may qualify. In order to qualify for assistance, you must be an eligible beneficiary, as the program only provides aid to:
- Pregnant women.
- Women who are breastfeeding, up to the baby’s first birthday.
- Women who recently had a baby or were pregnant within the last six months.
- Infants up to a one year old.
- Children up to five years old.
California WIC requirements also include residency, nutritional risk and income. In order to receive benefits in California, you must be a resident of the state and you cannot be receiving benefits from another state’s program.
WIC qualifications concerning nutritional risk will be determined during your initial appointment when you apply for the program. You will be reviewed by a health professional in order to determine whether or not there is a nutrition risk due to medical or dietary conditions. This is done at the clinic and, therefore, comes at no cost to you. An example of a dietary based nutritional risk is poor diet. Medical conditions that pose a nutritional risk include underweight, overweight, anemia, a history of poor pregnancy and premature birth.
There are income-related WIC eligibility requirements due to the fact that this program is designed to provide assistance to low-income mothers, mothers-to-be and young children. Income limits are reassessed on an annual basis, but are based upon a percentage of the federal poverty guidelines. If you are unsure as to whether or not you may meet income limits, it is worth knowing that participation in certain assistance programs can grant you automatic income eligibility for this program. Automatic income eligibility is granted by SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid and TANF.
How to Apply for WIC in California
If you would like to submit a WIC application in California, then it is important to learn how to apply. By learning how to get WIC, you can expedite the time spent on your application as well as better prepare for your initial appointment. At this time, you may only apply in person at a local agency or clinic. You can view a complete list of clinics and agencies within your area with ease online.
At this time, WIC online applications are not available in California. This is due to the fact that the state has you apply for the program during your initial visit that will help the state determine whether or not you or your children may be eligible to receive benefits. However, if you are accepted into the program, it is worth knowing that you can create an online account that will provide you with a wealth of knowledge related to the types of foods that you can purchase with the checks that will be provided to you as well as find tips on creating a grocery list.
For more information about how to sign up for WIC, download our free guide.
What can you get with WIC in California?
California WIC assistance provides numerous benefits, including:
- Practical nutrition information and healthy living tips for you and your family.
- Specific nutrition advice that is tailored to each individual from a nutrition expert.
- Support and information about breastfeeding and access to experts.
- Assistance in finding health care and other beneficial community services.
- Special checks that can be used in exchange for healthy foods.
WIC checks are provided on a monthly basis. Each check will include a different food group that contains a first day to use and a last day to use. You may not use a check until the date of the first date to use and any remaining balances beyond the last day to use will expire. Therefore, a WIC balance can be viewed simply by reviewing your remaining checks.
WIC benefits differ from benefits received from food stamps. Unlike food stamps, each of the checks that you will receive will specify the type of food item that you may purchase as well as include requirements for each of those food purchases. In California, added sugars are not allowed and that must be considered when shopping for food. Therefore, it is important to review the different names of added sugars so that you know what to look for. Some of these names include:
- Agave or agave syrup.
- Barley malt.
- Brown sugar.
- Cane syrup.
- Corn sugar.
- Corn syrup.
- Evaporated cane juice.
- High-fructose corn syrup.
- Maple sugar.
If you see any of these ingredients on a food item, or any other type of sugar listed, the item will not be eligible to pay for with your checks.
While you can find WIC foods online, you can generally purchase items such as:
- Canned fish.
- Whole grains.
- Peanut butter.
- Canned beans.
- Bottled or concentrate juice.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Baby food and formula.
You can learn more about the variety of benefits WIC offers by downloading our comprehensive guide.
How to Prepare for a WIC Appointment in California
As stated previously, your California WIC appointment will be an examination of your eligibility for the program as well as a way to receive additional information about the program, including how to use checks, if eligible for assistance. Additionally, you can expect an individualized nutrition assessment for each qualifying member of your family. Therefore, you must bring any children that you are applying for benefits for with you to the appointment.
When visiting a WIC office for that initial appointment, it is important that you bring the documents that will be required in order to complete the processing of your application. Therefore, it is imperative that you bring:
- Proof of identification for yourself and any children you are applying for.
- Proof of your California residency.
- Proof of your income.
If you fail to present documentation, your application could be denied and you would need to schedule another appointment in order to reapply for the program.
How to Check Your WIC Balance in California
California WIC checks will provide you with information related to the types of foods that you may purchase. Therefore, it is a simple process to review your balance as you can simply review which checks that can still be used. It is very important that you review the first day to use and last day to use dates that are listed on the front of the check. Expired checks can no longer be used, regardless of the number of benefits that you had remaining for the month.
For more helpful information on the WIC program, you can download our guide.