Iowa WIC is a federally funded supplemental nutrition program that provides numerous benefits to pregnant women, postpartum women, infants and children who qualify for assistance. Benefits include financial aid for nutritious food items, breastfeeding support, referrals to additional community services and nutrition information and education that can help you to better the overall health of you and your child. Your local WIC office will be your primary contact for any questions that you may have about your benefits or the program itself. The only way that you can apply for benefits is by setting up an appointment and visiting your local office in person.
The WIC program has numerous eligibility requirements that you must meet in order to receive benefits from the program. Therefore, it is both important and recommended that you review each of these requirements in order to learn more about who this program is for and determine whether or not you may qualify for benefits.
What are the WIC requirements in Iowa?
Iowa WIC provides numerous benefits to participants, but before you can receive assistance from the program, you must meet specific eligibility requirements. Furthermore, benefits can only be distributed to certain groups of individuals, such as:
- Pregnant women.
- Postpartum women who are breastfeeding, up to the infant’s first birthday.
- Postpartum women who are not breastfeeding, up to 6 months following a pregnancy.
- Infants and children up to 5 years of age.
While WIC eligibility requirements cannot be met by fathers, grandparents and other caretakers, these individuals may still apply for a qualifying child. Additional WIC qualifications include the following:
- Iowa residency. While each state has its own program, in order to apply for the program in Iowa, you must be a resident of the state. You cannot be receiving benefits from another state’s program either.
- Income limits. Iowa WIC is designed to provide assistance to low-income individuals and families. Therefore, income limits are based upon the current year’s federal poverty line and reassessed on an annual basis. Limits are assessed by household size. If you are currently pregnant, each unborn child will count as an additional household member, thus raising the income limit that you must be beneath in order to receive assistance.
- Nutritional risk. Before benefits can be issued, an individual must possess a nutritional risk, which will be determined by your local office during your initial appointment. A nutritional risk can be posed by a number of medical and dietary conditions, including anemia, a history of poor pregnancy outcomes, low birth weight, overweight, underweight and poor diet.
When determining if you meet WIC eligibility, it is worth knowing that you may automatically meet income limit requirements if you are already receiving benefits from certain Iowa low-income assistance programs. Programs that provide automatic income eligibility include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and Medicaid health insurance.
To learn more about requirements for WIC, download our free guide.
How to Apply for WIC in Iowa
A WIC application can only be submitted in person at your local Iowa office. When learning how to apply for WIC, it is important to know that most of your local agencies will require you to make an appointment prior to your visit as very few offices will accept walk-in applications.
At this time, WIC online applications, by mail applications and by fax applications are not available within the state. The state requires that you visit your local office so that your categorical, income, residency and nutritional risk eligibility requirements can be assessed and so you can meet with a nutrition expert if you qualify for assistance. Therefore, your initial WIC appointment is a crucial part of receiving program benefits, so it is important to learn more about this initial visit in order to properly prepare.
What can you get with WIC in Iowa?
Iowa WIC benefits are numerous as benefits are not strictly limited to financial assistance related to nutritious food items. With WIC, you can receive:
- Nutritional education and information that is tailored to you and your children.
- Breastfeeding information and support.
- Referrals to other social services and public assistance programs that you may qualify for.
- Monthly benefits that may be used towards the purchase of approved healthy food items.
Iowa WIC checks are no longer issued as of early 2016. Instead, you will receive an eWIC card if you are deemed eligible for benefits. This card can be used similarly to a debit card at any authorized point of sale terminal throughout the state for the purchase of authorized foods. In Iowa, you do not need to separate your purchases at the register. Instead, your eWIC card will automatically remove qualifying food items from your purchase total and you may pay your remaining balance using another payment method. The eWIC card also provides you with the benefit of not having to visit your local office on a monthly basis in order to pick up checks for the month as benefits are automatically distributed onto these cards.
WIC benefits expire on the last day of each month. Unlike SNAP (food stamps), these benefits will not roll over to the following month, so it is important to utilize benefits prior to the date of expiration. Depending on your projected nutritional needs, you may be eligible to use your benefits to purchase items such as:
- Peanut butter.
- Various whole grain items.
- Canned fish.
- Baby food and formula.
When using WIC, it is very important to review authorized foods carefully as many food categories will restrict sizes, brands and additive ingredients. If a food is not considered authorized, your eWIC card will not subtract the purchase amount from your total.
Learn more about WIC benefits by downloading the free guide.
How to Prepare for a WIC Appointment in Iowa
Your Iowa WIC office will determine your eligibility for benefits as well as examine the documentation that you must provide in order for the office to process your application. When attending a WIC appointment for the first time, you must bring:
- Any children with you that may be eligible to receive benefits.
- Proof of Iowa residency, such as with a current utility bill, rent or mortgage receipt, driver’s license, voter registration or a public assistance notification.
- Proof of identity for you and your children, such as with a driver’s license, state identification card, birth certificate or Social Security card.
- Proof of income for your household, such as with paystubs, award notices or a signed statement from an employer.
How to Check Your WIC Balance in Iowa
You can review a WIC balance in Iowa by contacting the number shown on the back of your eWIC card. Additionally, each time that you make a purchase using your card, the cashier will provide you with a receipt that will display your remaining food balances. Remember, food balances will expire on the last day of each month, so you are strongly recommended to use your remaining balance prior to the expiration of your benefits.