WIC, a program that supports pregnant women, infants and children, has been in existence since 1972 and the program has grown at an exponential rate ever since. The name of the program is derived from the group of people the program serves, women, infants and children.
What is WIC?
WIC is a program aimed to help place safeguards on the nutrition and health of lower-income women and their children, both born and unborn. WIC provides nutritional guidance and education, breastfeeding advice and support, referrals to healthcare professionals and other services available in the community, and vouchers redeemable for approved WIC foods from vendors who accept WIC.
Who is eligible for assistance from WIC?
Pregnant women, new mothers with babies less than six months old, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five are eligible for WIC if they meet income guidelines. Legal guardians of a child who meets these requirements may also apply on behalf of the child. To recieve WIC, you generally must be living in the state in which you are applying for benefits in.
What kind of foods does WIC provide?
WIC provides healthy, nutritious foods such as milk, cereal, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, beans, bread, fruit and vegetables. Mothers who are nursing are often given extra foods, such as carrots and salmon or tuna. Many states offer vouchers redeemable at the farmer’s markets for fresh produce, as well as formula for babies who are not breastfed.
What kind of support does WIC provide nursing mothers?
Many WIC offices will provide breastfeeding classes to pregnant women and nursing mothers and formula feeding mothers alike. These classes may be required in order to receive benefits regardless of whether or not the baby is breastfed or formula fed. WIC also provides educational pamphlets, access to breastfeeding counselors and lactation consultants, as well as referrals to local breastfeeding support networks. Many WIC offices will also loan out breast pumps, or may even give women breast pumps to keep.
What can I expect when I apply for WIC?
The application process for WIC is simple. You will be asked to fill out a form for each person you are applying for WIC benefits for. The form will ask some general information about your health and eating choices, as well as financial information. You will be asked to provide proof of income in one form or another. This proof of income may be in the form of paystubs, taxes, medicaid eligibility letters, or other similar documents. You may also be asked to provide a proof of identification as well. You will be required to notify WIC if your income level exceeds their maximum income guidelines for your family’s size.
During your initial appointment, you will be asked questions and given information about the program and how it works. You may be asked to watch a video describing how to shop using your WIC vouchers. After the initial appointment and approval, you may be required to do additional tasks to maintain your benefits, such as coming in to be weighed and measured, take a breastfeeding class, or have your iron levels checked with a simple prick to the finger.
What happens if I have special dietary needs?
If you have special dietary needs, such as being vegan, WIC may be able to substitute some of the items on your checks. If your baby needs a special kind of formula, they may be able to switch the type allowed on your vouchers if you alert them ahead of time. If you are expecting more than one baby, they may also be able to increase the amounts of certain foods on your vouchers.
The Bottom Line
WIC is a resource available to help many low-income families educate themselves on nutrition and breastfeeding, as well as provide healthy foods for eligible participants. WIC’s income guidelines are higher than most government programs, so even if you think you may not be eligible but could use the assistance, be sure to check with your local WIC office for a list of income guidelines specific to your state.
State of Alaska WIC Program Overview
What is WIC?
Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
The WIC Program: Background, Trends and Issues