Giving birth to a new baby is an amazing experience. Parenting your child also comes with an obvious significant amount of responsibility. This responsibility creates financial hardship for some families today, whether minor or major. The WIC program is fortunately available to help reduce financial struggles for new mothers.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a U.S. federal government-funded program. WIC eligibility is designated for pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women who are experiencing varying degrees of financial hardship. Program benefits are also available to infants and children (up to five years old) who are experiencing the risk of malnutrition. Continue reading to learn how to apply for WIC and receive your benefits today.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is designed to protect and supplement the health of women, infants and children through age five in low-income households. WIC grocery benefits help mothers and children in need receive the food and nutrition required to support a healthy life.
This is not all WIC does for qualified mothers, infants and children, however. Certainly, the foods WIC provides to qualified beneficiaries is nutritious and healthy. The WIC program also provides nutritional counseling, nutritional education and referrals for adequate health care as well. Without this program many women in low-income situations would be unable to properly feed and care for their children. Reasons for experiencing financial hardship are extremely varied in modern times.
The COVID-19 pandemic put many U.S. residents at risk of losing their homes. In some scenarios choices had to be made between eating properly or maintaining safe housing. The pandemic also caused many businesses to close, resulting in widespread unemployment. Lack of income leads to hunger in many situations. WIC is purposed to both mitigate and prevent this when possible.
WIC began as a pilot (experimental) program back in 1972. The program was made permanent in only 1974, just two years later. Even though all applications are submitted through your local WIC office, the program is funded by the federal government. In fact, WIC is actually facilitated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services division. WIC benefits are disbursed at the state and local levels, however.
What are all the benefits provided by WIC? The program services both qualified pregnant and breastfeeding women. Non-breastfeeding postpartum women are also eligible when qualified. Benefits are also extended to infants, toddlers and children up to five years of age. While the primary benefit WIC provides is access to healthy nutritious foods for low-income candidates, other benefits are also provided.
Foods authorized by WIC under program specifications include baby foods, infant cereal and iron-fortified adult cereal. Fruits and vegetables are also approved, as are eggs, milk, cheese and vegetable juice. Additional foods approved as part of WIC benefits program include:
• Vitamin C-fortified fruits.
• Soy beverages.
• Peanut butter.
• Dried and canned peas.
• Canned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel, etc.).
• Whole wheat bread.
• Whole grain food options.
• Iron-fortified infant formula (for non-breastfeeding women).
• Specialized infant formulas and medical-based foods as directed by approved pediatricians.
While the WIC grocery list is long, the program’s benefits are longer still. For example, approved WIC recipients have access to health screening, breastfeeding and nutritional counseling and immunization screening. Healthcare referrals and substance abuse referrals are also provided to WIC recipients in need of such services.