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Learn About WIC in Tennessee

Tennessee WIC is a federally funded and nationally recognized nutrition program that provides benefits to low-income women, infants and children that meet qualifications. Established in 1974, this program provides numerous benefits, including financial assistance for nutritious foods, personalized nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals for other social services. Today, a WIC office is located in nearly every county within the state. In Tennessee, this program provides assistance to more than 155,000 people throughout the state out of the estimated 200,000 people who are eligible for benefits.

The WIC program has several eligibility requirements that must be met before any assistance can be provided. Qualifications for WIC include categorical, nutritional risk, income and residency requirements. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you learn how to sign up for WIC, the eligibility requirements and the various program benefits. Should you choose to apply, you can better prepare for your initial appointment by reviewing the documentation that you will need to submit to your local office.

What are the WIC requirements in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, WIC eligibility is based upon categorical, income, residency and nutritional risk requirements. In order to receive benefits, you must be one of the following:

  • A pregnant woman
  • A postpartum woman who is breastfeeding (up to the baby’s first birthday)
  • A postpartum woman who is not breastfeeding (up to six months following the end of a pregnancy)
  • An infant or child who is up to five years of age

While fathers and other guardians cannot meet WIC qualifications, these individuals can still apply for benefits for a qualifying child.

A WIC program exists in every state within the United States. As stated previously, this program is recognized on a national level and federally funded. However, in order to apply for and receive benefits within the state of Tennessee, you must be a resident of the state. Nonresidents will be referred to their home state’s program.

Tennessee WIC is designed to provide benefits to low-income families and individuals who meet the program’s qualifications. Therefore, a prominent factor regarding whether or not you or your family may be eligible to receive benefits is related to your income level. Each year, the income limit for the program is reassessed as limits are based upon the current federal poverty line.

When determining the income limit that you and your family must be at or below, you will need to know your household size. Household size will include everyone living within the household, including figures such as fathers who may not be eligible for benefits, with an additional household member added for each unborn child.

Your local office will assess whether or not you or your children pose a nutritional risk. Benefits can only be provided to individuals who have met all WIC requirements, including nutritional risk. Nutritional risk can be defined by a number of medical and dietary related conditions. For example, poor diet, underweight, overweight, anemia, low birth weight and a history of poor pregnancies can all pose a nutritional risk.

Find out how to apply for WIC and where you can use it when you download our helpful guide.

How to Apply for WIC in Tennessee

To submit a WIC application in Tennessee, you will need to visit your local office. Online, by mail and by fax applications are not currently accepted within the state. In most cases, you will need to contact your local office ahead of time in order to schedule an appointment for your visit. If you would prefer to complete your application by walk-in, it is important that you contact your local office by phone in order to determine whether or not walk-ins are accepted by the location.

When learning how to apply for WIC, it is important to know that you must bring any children who may qualify for benefits with you to your local office. This is to ensure that staff members can determine whether or not children will be eligible to receive benefits.

It is also strongly recommended that you learn more about your initial appointment to the office, including the documents that you will need to present alongside your WIC application, in order to better prepare for the application process.

What can you get with WIC in Tennessee?

With WIC, eligible Tennessee mothers and children can receive numerous forms of support and children receive a head start towards a lifetime of health. WIC benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Nutritious foods to supplement diets.
  • Personalized nutrition information and education.
  • Breastfeeding information, support and encouragement.
  • Referral to health care and other social services for which a family may qualify.

You may be wondering how to get WIC benefits, as checks were discontinued in certain states. In Tennessee, however, you may receive WIC checks or a eWIC card, depending on the county that you live in.

Regardless of how you receive benefits, benefits will be distributed on a monthly basis and benefits will expire at the end of a beneficiary period rather than roll over into the following period. If you receive checks, you will need to visit your local office each month to pick up new checks as they will not be mailed to you. If you receive benefits through a eWIC card, benefits will be automatically distributed onto the card.

When using WIC benefits in Tennessee, it is important that you review your authorized food list prior to any purchase. The types of foods that you may purchase will be determined by your nutritional need and whether or not there are infants or children who are eligible to receive benefits within the home. Your authorized food lists may contain items such as the following:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned fish
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain pasta, rice or bread
  • Infant food and formula

By reviewing your WIC authorized food lists, you can familiarize yourself with the sizes, brands and general products that you may be eligible to purchase with checks or eWIC. Additionally, some categories of food are restricted from certain additives or ingredients.

How to Prepare for a WIC Appointment in Tennessee

In most cases, a WIC appointment must be scheduled with your local Tennessee office before you can submit your application. This appointment is an important step in receiving benefits as your eligibility will be determined by the end of the appointment. Initial appointments can generally take up to an hour to complete and any children who may qualify to receive benefits must be present.

When applying for WIC, your local office will provide you with additional information related to the program and available benefits as well as review your eligibility information. You must be able to provide staff with the following documents:

  • Proof of identity for anyone applying for benefits, including children
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of income for the household

Learn how to use your benefits when you download our comprehensive guide.

How to Check You WIC Balance in Tennessee

If you receive WIC checks in Tennessee, you will receive various checks that can each be used towards the purchase of foods from a different category. You do not need to use all of your checks in a single day, but they will expire at the end of your beneficiary period. You can review your remaining food balance by reviewing the amount of checks that you still have for the current beneficiary period.

If WIC benefits are distributed through eWIC for you, food balances can be reviewed by contacting the phone number listed on the back of your card. You will also receive a remaining balance on your receipt after any purchase that uses eWIC.