What is WIC?

WIC is the acronym for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. It is a federally-funded program that targets the health and nutrition needs of pregnant and postpartum women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of 5. WIC serves more than six million people each month

WIC is best known for providing nutritious foods, at no cost, to supplement the diets of participating families. Some foods include:

  • iron-fortified adult cereal
  • infant cereal
  • baby foods
  • dairy products such as eggs, milk, & cheese
  • peanut butter
  • dried and canned beans/peas
  • canned fish 
  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • soy-based beverages
  • tofu
  • whole-wheat bread and other whole-grain foods

WIC encourages and supports breastfeeding; the “food packages” available to breastfeeding mothers are specially designed to meet their nutritional needs, and breast pumps may be available to participants. For women who do not fully breastfeed, WIC provides iron-fortified infant formula or, with a prescription, special infant formula.

But WIC isn’t just a “food program.” It also provides nutrition education and counseling, as well as screenings and referrals to other health and social services. 

WIC serves:

  • pregnant women, through their pregnancy and up to six weeks after birth or the end of their pregnancy 
  • breastfeeding mothers, up to one year after their baby’s birth 
  • non-breastfeeding mothers, up to six months after their baby’s birth or the end of their pregnancy 
  • infants, up to 1 year old 
  • children, up to 5 years old

Income eligibility for WIC is determined by household income, which must be below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines. Applicants who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Medicaid, and/or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) meet the income eligibility for WIC.

Even though WIC’s funding comes from the federal government, you can contact your state or local WIC office to apply. Check your state WIC office’s website or call the toll-free number in your state to set up an appointment. When you contact the office, their staff will tell you where to go and what paperwork to bring with you.

Last updated April 12, 2020

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