For those who don’t know WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a supplemental nutrition program for the health and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children up to the age of five who are found to be at a nutritional risk.
In addition to the categorical requirements, in order to qualify, you must:
- Live in the State in which you apply.
- Have income at or below an income level or standard. (varies by state)
- Must have been seen by a health professional to determine whether the individual is at nutrition risk. Examples of nutrition risks are anemia, underweight, or history of poor pregnancy outcome.
People commonly mistake WIC for food stamps and although you get free food, it is so much more than that. WIC provides supplemental nutritional foods, education, counseling and referrals to other health welfare and social services. In the form of checks, you’re only able to purchase foods from their guide that help promotes a healthy diet. The foods in the nutritional plan include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, juice and dairy products.
What I love about the program is the education mothers and mothers to be can receive. Their nutritional plan breaks down what foods you should be eating while pregnant in an easy to follow guide depending on your nutritional needs. WIC advocates for breastfeeding and makes it a priority that every mother receives information about the benefits of breast milk for both mother and baby.
Once your baby is ready to start eating solids, they work with you and your child by closely monitoring their growth and their progress with different foods. WIC’s nutritionists are receptive to any concerns you may have about your child’s diet as well as providing sound support as you help your child transition to eating full meals.
The food vouchers are a bit stigmatized because they’re not discrete and you are limited to only buying certain brands. As a single mom trying to save money while having another mouth to feed is a little tricky. WIC has definitely helped me save some extra money on foods such as bread, cereal and fruits and veggies for my little one.
The only negative thing I would have to say is the lack of organic brands and the lack of quality brands in general. We don’t drink cow’s milk in our house and unfortunately the only alternative they have is soy milk. We are now becoming more aware of how food can be negatively impactful on our health. Because of this, there should be more organic options to choose from. Limitations could be due to state budgeting and lack of popularity in the area, unfortunately.
Overall, WIC is a great way to save some money on groceries as well as help promote a healthier lifestyle for the family. Visit USDA for more information.