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Learn About WIC in Washington

Washington WIC is a nutrition assistance program that provides benefits to pregnant women, new and breastfeeding mothers, infants and young children. The program — which is also known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — provides benefits to those who meet WIC eligibility requirements. These benefits include free nutritious foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health screenings and referrals to other social services that a family may qualify for. In 2017 alone, the Washington program provided aid to almost 275,000 women, infants and children. Today, nearly half of all babies residing within the state receive benefits.

Your local WIC office will ultimately determine whether or not you are eligible to receive benefits. However, you can familiarize yourself with the program, application process and benefits by learning about these eligibility requirements prior to your initial appointment.

To qualify for the WIC program, you must meet categorical, income, residency and nutritional risk eligibility requirements. In addition to learning about requirements, it may be extremely beneficial to learn how to sign up for WIC and how qualified applicants receive benefits, use benefits and check their remaining food balances.

What are the WIC requirements in Washington?

Washington WIC requirements for eligibility are as follows:

  • Categorical: This refers to the groups of individuals who may be eligible to receive benefits.
  • Residential: Applicants must live in the state they are applying for benefits in.
  • Financial: Household income must be below a certain threshold.
  • Nutritional: Eligible individuals must be at nutritional risk.

The WA program is designed to provide WIC assistance to pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children. To be eligible, claimants must either be pregnant women, postpartum women, or infant or children younger than five years of age. Women who are postpartum may be eligible to receive benefits for six months following the end of a pregnancy if they are not breastfeeding. However, women who are breastfeeding may remain eligible for benefits for up to one year after the birth of a baby.

Note: Learn more about WIC requirements in our in-depth free guide.

While the WIC program is nationally recognized and available within every state, you must be a resident of Washington in order to receive benefits within the state. If you are not a state resident, you will be referred to the state in which you live to submit an application for assistance.

WIC qualifications are also based on income, as the program is designed to aid individuals who need it most. In other words, your income may not exceed a certain limit. WIC income limits are based on the size of a household. In addition, the federal government reevaluates limits annually in accordance with the current year’s Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

When determining your household size, it is important to keep in mind that each unborn child will be considered an additional household member for this program. In addition, your local office will use your WIC application to determine whether you meet nutritional risk qualifications. If a nutritional risk is not present, you may not be considered eligible for the program, even if you meet all other eligibility requirements.

A nutritional risk can be posed by a number of medical and dietary conditions. A few examples of qualifying conditions include anemia, poor pregnancy history, being overweight or underweight and having a poor diet.

How to Apply for WIC in Washington

When learning how to apply for WIC in Washington, it is important to know that you can only submit a WIC application by visiting your local office. Online and by-mail applications are not currently accepted. In most cases, you will need to contact your local office prior to your visit in order to schedule an appointment.

WIC interview appointments will generally take between 30 and 45 minutes, so it is important to learn more about this initial appointment, including what to expect during your visit and the documentation that you will need to bring with you in order to complete your application.

Learn how to get WIC in your area and manage the application process with our comprehensive guide.

What can you get with WIC in Washington?

Washington WIC benefits are numerous, as benefits are not all strictly related to food. If you are found eligible for the program, you may receive:

  • One-on-one personalized nutrition information and education.
  • Breastfeeding information, encouragement and support.
  • Free health screening and immunizations.
  • Referrals to other social services in your area that you and your family may qualify for.
  • Monthly checks for healthy foods.

You will be given WIC checks for various food groups. Checks may be used only for the specific type of food listed on them. Each check will list a maximum dollar benefit amount the date that you can begin using it and an expiration date. An expiration date is listed because unused benefits do not roll over to the following beneficiary period.

You do not need to use all WIC benefits at one time. You can use as many or as few checks that you would like to during a purchase. Depending on your authorized food list, you may be eligible to purchase items like:

  • Milk.
  • Cheese.
  • Yogurt.
  • Eggs.
  • Whole grains.
  • Cereal.
  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Baby food and formula.
  • Canned fish.

How to Prepare for a WIC Appointment in Washington

Your initial WIC appointment in Washington is a crucial step in receiving program benefits, as an appointment is the only way that you can apply for benefits within the state. Therefore, it is important to know what to expect from the application process as well as what you will need to bring with you to your appointment.

During your visit to your WIC office, your eligibility for the program will be determined by the documentation that you provide, as well as a measurement of your height and weight. You will also need to undergo a blood test. This additional testing will aid staff in determining whether or not a nutritional risk is present, as well as determining the types of foods that you may be able to purchase using food benefits. Appointments may take up to 45 minutes on average.

When applying for the program, you must bring:

  • Any children who may qualify for WIC benefits.
  • Proof of income or proof of receiving assistance from another assistance program for low-income families or individuals.
  • Proof of residency.
  • Immunization records for each of your children who may be eligible to receive benefits.

How to Check Your WIC Balance in Washington

Your Washington WIC balance will determine the food that you may purchase prior to the distribution of further benefits. As stated previously, unused benefits do not roll over to the following beneficiary period, so it is strongly recommended that you use these benefits before the expiration date listed on your checks.

As the state utilizes WIC checks, you can review your remaining food balance by reviewing the checks that you still have at your disposal. Checks will vary by food type, so it is important to carefully review the types of foods you can purchase with each check.