For the past two weeks, I have been on a community nutrition rotation at WIC. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
Each county in the state of West Virginia has it’s own WIC office. I have had the opportunity to shadow a registered dietitian at the Monongalia County WIC office located in Morgantown, WV.
WIC provides the following services for eligible participants:
- Free vouchers for specific, nutritious foods
- Nutrition education in the form of one-on-one counseling with a dietitian, group classes, or grocery store tours
- Free immunizations for children
- Breastfeeding services in the form of one-on-one counseling with a lactation consultant. Breastfeeding pumps are also available for lactating mothers in a limited supply
- Screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social services
Who is eligible to receive WIC benefits?
Participants must meet all three of the following requirements:
- Pregnant women
- Postpartum women (up to 6 months after pregnancy)
- Infants (up to the infant’s 1st birthday)
- Children (up to age 5)
2. Income Level
- Applicant must meet USDA income standards which are revised each year. Any applicant that has a current medical card, proof of food stamps or TANF eligibility is automatically income eligible for WIC benefits.
3. Nutritional Risk
- A nutrition and health assessment includes: height & weight measurements, anemia (low hemoglobin levels), health history & diet assessment.
WIC participants receive food vouchers that can be used at local grocery stores (and Wal-Mart). A new offer from WIC is that participants can now receive a special $20 farmer’s market voucher to spend at local farmer’s markets on fresh fruits and vegetables!
The quantities of foods depend on the type of participant. For example, breastfeeding mothers require more food than mother’s who are not breastfeeding. The types of foods that participants can receive with their vouchers include:
- 4 cans of beans, 1 package of dried beans, OR a jar of peanut butter
- 16 oz of sliced, cheddar, or blocked cheese
- Milk (whole, 2%, 1%, or skim)
- Cereal (only certain brands)
- 100% juices
- $10 or $6 voucher for fresh fruits and vegetables
- Infant baby foods and formula
For a full list of WIC approved foods starting February 1, 2013, click here.