The Women, Infants and Children program, better known as WIC, provides food assistance to low-income mothers and young children. The program gives qualifying adults funds to help pay for nutritious foods, and beneficiaries have other benefits as well.
The WIC office is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA, but applicants will need to submit an application to their state. Specific eligibility requirements can vary by location, but women can use a prescreening tool to see if they qualify. Discover more about WIC, including how to get free food.
The main benefit of the WIC program is access to nutritious food items. Funds may only apply to items on the WIC food list that supplement the diets of infants, children, and pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women. Baby food, eggs, and whole wheat bread are just a few examples of qualifying goods.
In some cases, participants have food packages, which means they have a monthly allowance for specific foods. Package allowances depend on the specific enrollee, such as a child younger than five years of age, a pregnant woman, or a breastfeeding woman.
For instance, a food package for a three-year-old child could include 128 fluid ounces of juice, 16 quarts of milk, and two pounds of whole wheat bread. On the other hand, a breastfeeding mother could receive a package for 144 fluid ounces of juice, 24 quarts of milk, and 30 ounces of canned fish.
WIC has other benefits since the program’s mission is to keep at-risk women and children healthy. Some resources participants can access include the following:
- No-cost health screenings
- Nutrition and breastfeeding counseling
- Immunization screening
- Medical referrals
- Substance abuse referrals
At a WIC appointment, representatives can review children’s immunization records and provide a recommended vaccine schedule. Staff can also provide parents with resources on where to obtain vaccines and more information on safety concerns.
Health screenings can determine if someone is anemic, underweight, or has other diet-based risks. A medical professional can diagnose if someone has a nutritional risk and, therefore, qualifies for program enrollment.
At a WIC clinic, residents can learn more about proper nutrition, reducing food costs, and physical activity. Mothers will receive guidance and educational materials about breastfeeding, from when to nurse to getting low-cost breast pumps. Some states allow participants to take WIC classes online so they can learn from home, at school, or on their phones.
While the U.S. government sets up many WIC benefit requirements, tribal organizations and recognized areas have income limitations and other qualifications specific to that location. Learn more about WIC requirements to receive WIC benefits.