WIC Government Program - WIC Benefits

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also called WIC, focuses on the needs of pregnant and breast feeding low-income women and children. Food is provided for women and children for nutritional needs during this important time, and though coverage for woman end soon after giving birth, benefits can be retained until six months after the birth of a child if the woman is breast feeding.

WIC is a short-term program. Therefore, a participant will "graduate" at the end of one or more certification periods. A certification period is the length of time a WIC participant is eligible to receive benefits. Depending on whether the individual is pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, an infant, or a child, an eligible individual usually receives WIC benefits from 6 months to a year, at which time she/he must reapply.

Sometimes WIC agencies do not have enough money to serve everyone who needs WIC or calls to apply. When this happens, WIC agencies must keep a list, called a waiting list, of individuals who want to apply and are likely to be served. WIC agencies then use a special system, called a Priority System, to determine who will get WIC benefits first when more people can be served. The purpose of the priority system is to make sure that WIC services and benefits are provided first to participants with the most serious health conditions such as anemia, underweight, history of problems during pregnancy.

WIC provides supplemental foods, healthcare referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding promotion and support to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. WIC also provides formula for babies as well as basic foods like cheese, bread and milk for their children. In addition to supplying nutritious foods, WIC also provides nutrition education and counseling at WIC clinics along with screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social services. Some examples of where WIC services are provided:

  • » County health departments
  • » Hospitals
  • » Public housing sites
  • » Mobile clinics
  • » Schools
  • » Migrant health centers and camps
  • » Community centers
  • » Indian Health Service facilities