Part of understanding if you qualify for WIC is understanding the program’s definition of nutritional risk. Because the program’s primary responsibilities are to reduce and eliminate nutritional risk, this is a significant point of emphasis. In fact, the WIC food list is specifically designed with the prevention of nutritional risk in mind.

What is nutritional risk as defined by WIC programs around the U.S. today?

WIC recognizes two different types of nutritional risks when considering applicant eligibility. Medical and dietary-based nutritional risks are these two types. Dietary nutritional risks include inadequate nutrition, inappropriate feeding practices and a failure to meet up-to-date official Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 

Requirements for Qualifying For WIC

Unfortunately, women, infants and young children are exposed to the most dietary-based nutritional risks, which is one reason why WIC emphasizes their prevention.

Medical-based nutritional risks include adverse pregnancy outcomes, complications during pregnancy (both current or historically) and anemia. A woman or child who is severely underweight is also considered to be at a medical-based nutritional risk as well.

WIC classes online are available to help train women on how to stay properly nourished while pregnant, while breastfeeding or during non-breastfeeding postpartum tenures. Income threshold criteria does apply pursuant to program approval, however. This means all applicants must meet state and/or local income eligibility requirements to receive benefits through WIC. All WIC applicants must also reside in the state or region where the applicable WIC program is operating. Essentially, income, residence and risk of nutritional deficit are the three primary qualifying factors when applying for WIC.

Additional Qualification and Program Information

Eligibility for certain other state or federal government sponsored benefits programs might automatically qualify you for approval by your local WIC program. For example, if you already qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP or food stamps) you might be automatically qualified for WIC as well. 

The same is true for mothers or children who receive Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) for disabilities or other hardships.

Mothers who breastfeed their children are eligible to receive WIC benefits for a longer period of time than mothers who do not. Why is the WIC program so successful? Over fifty percent of U.S. infants are qualified for the WIC program. This statistic emphasizes the priority WIC places on the nation’s young and their mothers receiving proper nutrition.

WIC also works in-tandem with local farmers markets. The WIC food list is purchasable at most grocery stores as well. In working with local stores and farmers markets alike, however, WIC helps support the local economy and create jobs.