What Are The Available Food Benefits For WIC Participants?

In most WIC State agencies, WIC participants receive checks or some sort of WIC vouchers. They can then use these in participating food stores, to purchase special, select foods, that are designed to help supplement their diets. They are chosen because of the certain nutrients that benefit those within the WIC program and also to better meet their purpose of helping increase healthy living and nutritious diets.  Some States issue a form of electronic cards instead of paper checks or vouchers. The use of these electronic cards is expanding and it has been announced that all WIC State agencies are required to implement the WIC electronic benefit transfer (EBT) statewide by October 1, 2020.  This will be applied throughout each state. 

A pamphlet will be provided to participants as they visit the WIC office, but WIC foods tend to include some form of;

  • infant cereal
  •  iron-fortified adult cereal,
  • Vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable juice,
  • eggs,
  • milk,
  • cheese,
  • peanut butter,
  • dried or canned beans/peas,
  • and some canned fish.

***Recently added were; soy-based beverages, tofu, fruits and vegetables, baby foods, whole-wheat bread, and some other whole-grain options.

It is important to note that WIC does promote breastfeeding as the prime source of nutrition for infants, but they do recognize some mothers who do not or cannot fully breastfeed, and so they provide iron-fortified infant formula.

Am I Automatically Eligible for Being a Recent Mother?

WIC is not an entitlement program. Be mindful of that. Congress does not set aside funds to allow every eligible individual to participate in the program. That is why criteria and eligibility requirements are set in place to better select those truly in need. WIC is a Federal grant program for which Congress authorizes a specific amount of funds each year for the program.

What Are The Main Benefits of WIC?

The following benefits are provided to WIC participants:

  • Supplemental nutritional foods  (food benefits that are available)

  • Nutrition education and counseling provided at WIC clinics

  • Screenings and referrals to other health, welfare, and social services

Where Are WIC Services Provided?

They are provided in placed such as:

  • county health departments

  • hospitals

  • mobile clinics (vans)

  • community centers

  • schools

  • public housing sites

  • migrant health centers and camps

  • Indian Health Service facilities

How Many Are Served Throughout The Nation?

Recent data suggest that during Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the amount of women, infants, and children that were receiving WIC benefits each month accounted for approximately 8.0 million of the U.S. During the first 3 months of FY 2016, States had already reported an average participation on a monthly basis for over 7.8 million participating per month. Just to show how far this program has come, in 1974 the year WIC first became permanent, only 88,000 people participated. In 1980, that gained up to 1.8 million participants; come 1985, 3.1 million; by 1990, 4.5 million; and by the year 2000, there had been 7 million participants.

Out of all these years, children have always seemed to have been the majority of those receiving WIC benefits. In FY 2015, of the 8.0 million receiving benefits, about 4.16 million were children (according to WIC program data).

What Is the WIC Infant Formula Rebate System and How Does it Work?

For women and mothers participating in the WIC program, they are encouraged to breastfeed their infants if at all possible. WIC is aware that there are times where that may not be the best option for a mother or child. For that reason, WIC State agencies provide an infant formula for those mothers who are unable or do not breastfeed their infant. By law, WIC State agencies are strictly required by law, to have infant formula rebates contracts (competitively bid) with infant formula manufacturers. Varying by state, WIC State agencies have agreed to provide one brand of formula and in return the manufacturer gives the State agency a rebate offer for each can of infant formula that is purchased by WIC users.