Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) - FAQs


What is WIC?

WIC is a food and nutrition program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture through the Virginia Department of health.

WIC helps to correct or prevent malnutrition in low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, women who recently had a baby, infants and children up to 5 years old who are at health risk due to inadequate nutrition. WIC provides supplemental food, offers professional nutrition education and makes referrals based on health screening and assessments of need.

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How will WIC improve my health?

  • WIC lowers the rate of anemia among participating children ages 6 months to five years.
  • WIC significantly improves children's diets, particularly when it comes to vitamins and nutrients including iron, calcium, vitamin C, thiamin, protein, niacin, and vitamin B6.
  • WIC participation leads to higher rates of immunization against childhood diseases.
  • Pregnant women have adequate weight gain.
  • Premature births are reduced.
  • Low birth weight reduced.
  • Pregnant women get into prenatal care earlier in pregnancy.
  • Consume more of the nutrients essential for optimal growth and development, such as iron, protein, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and D.
  • Experience fewer fetal and infant deaths.
  • Premature births are reduced.  ßinsert link to: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/pcs/savingbabies.htm
  • Low birth weight reduced.
  • Pregnant women get into prenatal care earlier in pregnancy.
  • Consume more of the nutrients essential for optimal growth and development, such as iron, protein, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and D.
  • Experience fewer fetal and infant deaths.
  • Breastfeeding mothers receive education of how to feed their infants and how to monitor for proper growth and development for themselves and their infants/children.

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Who is eligible for WIC?

Applicants must meet all of the following 5 criteria:

   1. Fall into one of the following categories:

  •    - Pregnant Women
  •     - Breastfeeding Women up to 1 year from delivery
  •     - Postpartum Women up to 6 months from delivery
  •     - Infants
  •     - Children up to their 5th birthday

   2. Parents, step-parents, grandparents, guardians, and foster parents of infants and children under the age of 5 can apply.
   3. Live in Virginia
   4. Income eligible (at or below 185% of Federal Poverty Guidelines or on Medicaid or food stamps)
   5. Have a nutritional need or risk.

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May I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?


Yes, you may apply. Records are kept confidential. If you are an illegal worker, please refer to income eligibility requirements for acceptable forms of documents to verify proof of income.

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What does my income have to be in order to be eligible for WIC?

The Virginia Department of Health WIC home Web page provides guidelines for WIC income eligibility.

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What serves as proof of income?

Participation in the following programs:
- Medicaid
- Food Stamps (SNAP)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program
- National School Lunch Program - 3 pay stubs / pay check receipts.
- Signed letter from employer stating wages.

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I do not receive paychecks from my job, how can I apply for WIC?

A signed statement provided by employer that states WIC applicant's wages.

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Does WIC provide medical/health care?

No, WIC does not provide medical and/or health care. However, WIC does provide the necessary referrals to social/healthcare agency, according to the nutrition and health assessment of the WIC client.

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Why do I have to get my hemoglobin (iron level in blood) measured?

Hemoglobin (level of iron in blood) is measured to monitor sufficient intake of iron. Inadequate/Insufficient intake of iron results in anemia. Anemia causes fatigue, etc. When clients are assessed for hemoglobin level and are found below the normal level, they are considered high risk and are brought back to assure level improvement. In addition, if a WIC applicant is found to have a low hemoglobin level, they are nutritionally eligible for the WIC program.

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How much do WIC services cost?

WIC services are free to applicants and participants.

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What happens when someone applies for WIC?

  1. Review of income.
  2. Review of health and medical history.
  3. Review of usual dietary intake and eating patterns.
  4. Review of immunization record (children only).
  5. Height & weight measurements taken.
  6. Hemoglobin test performed (over 9 months of age).
  7. Meet with health professional for determination of nutrition eligibility for program.
  8. Discuss foods that will be received from WIC.
  9. Learn nutrition & health information applicable for participant.
  10. Learn about other helpful services & resources in the community.
  11. Learn about how to use the WIC Food Instruments.
  12. Make next appointment to pick up Food Instruments and receive additional nutrition education.

The initial appointment can take from 1-2 hours. The other appointments during the certification period usually take 30 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on the individual, the next appointment may be in 1, 2 or 3 months.

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What must an applicant bring to an appointment?

  1. Proof of income or Medicaid Card
  2. Proof of identification for the applicant (drivers license, birth certificate)
  3. Proof of applicant's address
  4. Proof of pregnancy, if available (for Pregnant Women)
  5. Immunization record (for children)

Applicant should contact the local WIC office for more specific information.

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How long is someone certified for the program?

Depending on their WIC category, participants are certified for a specific length of time. At the end of the certification period, participants can repeat the certification process to be recertified. The general certification periods by WIC category are:

  • Pregnant women are certified up to 6 weeks past their estimated date of delivery.
  • Breastfeeding women are certified for 6 months at a time, up to 1 year from date of delivery, as long as they continue to breastfeed.
  • Postpartum women are certified for 6 months from the date of delivery.
  • Infants added prior to 6 months of age are certified up to their first birthday.
  • Infants added after 6 months of age are certified for 6 months.
  • Children are certified for 6 months at a time and care re-certify every 6 months until the child’s 5th birthday.

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If someone is working, can they apply for WIC?

Yes, WIC looks at income, not whether or not someone is working.

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Can someone be on WIC and food stamps at the same time?

Yes

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If someone is no longer eligible for food stamps, are they eligible for WIC?

Yes, they may possibly still be income eligible.

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If I am homeless, may I receive WIC services?

If you are homeless you are eligible to receive WIC services. Homeless are considered high risk and are taken as one of WIC's top priorities for client intake.

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How does someone apply for WIC?

Contact one of our WIC locations.

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Why was WIC created?

In the late 1960s, during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, the federal government focused a great deal of attention on helping low-income Americans.

The 1967 National Nutrition Survey revealed that many lower income children suffered from anemia and inadequate growth. These conditions can adversely affect brain size and cognitive ability. The study showed that children got off to a poor start both physically and mentally because they didn't have enough to eat or they didn't eat the right foods. Some children also suffered because mothers did not get adequate nutrition during their pregnancies.

In 1972, Congress passed bill sponsored by Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D.Minn.) to create the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Congress funded the program for two years and put the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in charge of it.

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Where can I get more information about WIC?

Go to the USDA website.

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If I am under the age of 18 and live with my parents, do I qualify for WIC?

You qualify if you are under 18 years old and live with your parents/legal guardians,
      - AND, your parents/legal guardians meet WIC income eligibility requirements
     - AND/OR provide less than 50% of living necessities

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How will I know which grocery store participates in the WIC program?

Participating vendors (grocery stores) have a WIC sign presented at the front of the store to inform WIC clients that they accept WIC vouchers. At client certification (enrollment into the WIC program) you receive more specific information for which surrounding locations welcome WIC clients. WIC clients also receive special instructions for how to use the WIC vouchers.

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What is high risk and/or health risk for WIC eligible clients?

          FOR WOMEN

Anthropometric Risks

  • Low Maternal Weight Gain
  • Maternal Weight Loss During Pregnancy
  • Pre pregnancy / Post partum Underweight
  • Prepregnancy / Postpartum Overweight
  • High Maternal Weight Gain

Clinical, Health, or Medical Risks

  • Pregnancy-Induced Conditions
  • Pregnancy at a Young Age
  • History of Low Birth weight
  • History of Spontaneous Abortion (Miscarriage)
  • History of Fetal Loss (Stillbirth)
  • History of Neonatal Loss (Death of Baby After Birth)
  • History of Birth with Nutrition- Related Congenital or Birth Defect
  • Closely Spaced Pregnancies
  • High Parity (Pregnant Many Times) and Young Age
  • Multi fetal Gestation (Twins, Triplets, Etc.)
  • Pregnant Woman Currently Breastfeeding
  • Nutrition-Related Risks or Conditions
  • Dental Problems

Biochemical Risks

  • Anemia, Severe
  • Anemia, Moderate to Mild
  • Elevated Blood Lead Levels

Dietary Risks

  • Failure to Meet Dietary Guidelines

Other Risks

  • Possibility of Regression
  • Transfer of Certification
  • Breastfeeding Complications
  • Homelessness or Migrancy
  • Presumptive Eligibility for Pregnant Woman
  • Breastfeeding Mother of Infant at Nutritional Risk

 

          RISKS FOR INFANTS AND CHILDREN

Anthropometric Risks

  • Inadequate Growth
  • Low Birth Weight
  • Pre maturity
  • Small for Gestational Age
  • Low Head Circumference
  • Underweight or at-risk of Becoming Underweight Infants and Children
  • Overweight Children
  • At-risk of Becoming Overweight Infants and Children

Clinical, Health, or Medical Risks

  • Nutrition-Related Risks or Conditions
  • Dental Problems

Biochemical Risks

  • Anemia, Severe
  • Anemia, Moderate to Mild
  • Elevated Blood Lead Levels
  • Risk of Anemia - Consecutive Screenings

Dietary Risks

  • Infant Dietary Risks
  • Inappropriate Use of Bottles
  • Failure to Meet Dietary Guidelines

Other Risks

  • Possibility of Regression
  • Transfer of Certification
  • Breastfeeding Complications
  • Homelessness or Migrancy
  • Infant up to 6 months of age of a woman participating in WIC or of a woman who would have been eligible during pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding Infant of a Woman at Nutritional Risk
  • Primary Caregiver with Limited Ability to Make Feeding Decisions and/or Prepare Food

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