If you’re a single mother struggling to afford your child’s nutritional needs, you may want to consider enrolling for Women Infants and Children Program(WIC). To learn about the benefits of this program, the eligibility requirements, and the application process, keep reading this article. We’ve written this guide based on our experience with applying to the WIC program.
We hope this article will help explain in detail what you need to know about WIC along with useful guidelines to help you acquire the benefits successfully. We’ve also included information on how COVID-19 has impacted the applicants and recipients of WIC.
What is WIC?
WIC is short for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. It is a program funded by the federal government to supplement the diet of low-income infants, children under the age of 5, and pregnant women who have nutritional problems.
This program provides nutritious food at no cost and provides help to over six million people every month.
Eligibility Requirements for WIC
To be eligible for WIC, you must meet the categorical, residential, income, and nutritional requirements. In terms of category, WIC applicants must fall under one of the following groups:
Pregnant women – the program assists during the period of pregnancy and up to six weeks after childbirth.
None breastfeeding mothers up to six months after childbirth
Breastfeeding mothers up to one year after childbirth
Infants up to one year of age
Children up to five years old
If you fall under one of the above categories, you must also live in the state in which you’re applying for WIC and fall within the income level set by the state which is usually between 100 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
You don’t need to have lived within the area for a specific period before meeting the residential requirements.
You could meet the income requirements automatically by just being a participant of other federal-funded programs such as SNAP and Medicaid.
In addition to meeting all the above requirements, you must also be at nutrition risk to qualify for WIC. Being at nutrition risk means that you have a medical-based or dietary condition such as anemia, underweight, history of poor pregnancy outcome, or a poor diet.
To be certified as a patient at nutrition risk, you will have to be examined by a health professional at the WIC clinic free or your own physician. Your height, weight, and bloodwork must be measured at the minimum, and your nutrition condition must fall under the WIC nutrition risk criteria as set by the state.
How to Enroll for WIC
Before applying for WIC, you have to contact the state or local agency administering the program in your area and schedule an appointment. You will be instructed on what to bring to the WIC appointment to help determine your eligibility. Documents requested often include
proof of income for all your household members,
proof that you fall under one of the categories served by WIC such as a birth certificate for children or statement showing the expected date of delivery for pregnant women,
proof of identity, and
proof of residence.
You can contact the state or local agency through their website or toll-free number. You can find a list of WIC state agencies here, along with their toll-free numbers.
Since WIC agencies often do not have sufficient money to go round for everyone who needs it, you may be placed on a waiting list. Your position on the waiting list will depend on the priority placed on your condition.
Applicants who are suffering from severe nutrition conditions are often served first. You can visit this link to learn about the WIC priority system.
Understanding the WIC application
The WIC application process is pretty straightforward. Once you meet all the qualifications, all you have to do is wait. Bear in mind that participants cannot enjoy the WIC benefits forever. The length of the eligibility period depends on the category you fall under and may require you to reapply to continue to receive benefits.
COVID-19 Impacts on WIC?
COVID-19 has caused a rise in unemployment which has in turn led to an increase in food insecurity. The role of WIC is now more important than ever, and luckily, the program has adapted to the changes and is still providing value to those in need. Applications and appointments are still being made remotely and low-income earners are still receiving WIC benefits.
WIC was designed in such a way to respond to severe realities such as the COVID-19 pandemic. So, despite the rise in WIC applicants due to the increase in unemployment, the program remains strongly ongoing. The only challenge faced is the sudden scarcity of WIC marked food products due to panic buying by non-WIC recipients inclusive.
WIC remains one of the most important federal assisted programs to date. Thanks to WIC, the rate of malnutrition is at a minimum, and low-income individuals can also get the adequate nutrition they need.
Before applying for WIC, ensure you fall under the WIC nutrition risk group and meet the other basic requirements. Always ensure you contact the WIC local agency in your area through their website or toll-free number to receive application instructions.
Remember that applicants are served according to the priority system, and the length of period for which you are eligible to receive WIC benefits depends on the category you fall under.