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BLOG: Pregnant? Have a baby? WIC may be just right for you

Pregnant mother eating a bowl of fruit.

Q: My friend, who’s pregnant, told me she gets some of her food from WIC. I’m pregnant too but I’m not sure what that is? Can you tell me?

A: WIC is the abbreviation for The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. This is a federal nutrition program created in 1974 to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk. This mission is carried out by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support), and referrals to health and other social services.

Q: How can WIC help me and my family?

A: WIC supplemental foods have shown to provide wide-ranging benefits. They include longer, safer pregnancies, with fewer premature births and infant deaths; improved dietary outcomes for infants and children; improved maternal health; and improved performance at school for children, among others. In addition to health benefits, WIC participants showed significant savings in health care costs when compared to non-participants.

Q: How many families in Palm Beach County receive WIC?

A: The WIC program in Palm Beach County serves more than 30,000 participants at six locations throughout the county.

Q: What food benefits do WIC participants receive?

A: The foods provided through the WIC Program are designed to supplement participants’ diets with specific nutrients. WIC-authorized foods include infant cereal, baby foods, iron-fortified adult cereal, fruits and vegetables, vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable juice, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, dried and canned beans/peas, canned fish, whole wheat bread and other whole-grain options. For infants of women who do not fully breastfeed, WIC provides iron-fortified infant formula. Special infant formulas and medical foods may also be provided if medically indicated.

Q: What are some other benefits of WIC?

A: WIC benefits are not limited only to food. Participants have access to several resources, including health screenings, nutrition and breastfeeding counseling, immunization screening and referral, substance abuse referral, and more.

Q: Am I eligible?

A: Pregnant, postpartum (after birth) and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who meet certain requirements are eligible. These requirements include income eligibility and state residency. Additionally, the applicant must be individually determined to be at “nutrition risk.”

Q: What is “nutrition risk” and why is it important?

Two major types of nutrition risk are recognized for WIC eligibility: Medically based risks such as anemia, underweight, history of pregnancy complications, or poor pregnancy outcomes; and dietary risks, such as inappropriate nutrition/feeding practices or failure to meet the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Women, infants and children at nutrition risk have much greater risk of experiencing health problems.

Q: How do I use WIC benefits?

A: Florida WIC clients use a WIC EBT card to purchase WIC-approved foods at authorized WIC grocery stores. EBT uses a magnetic stripe or smart card, similar to a credit card, that participants use in the check-out lane to redeem their food benefits. EBT provides a safer, easier and more efficient grocery experience and provides greater flexibility in the way WIC participants can shop.

Q: What are the benefits if I’m breastfeeding now, or thinking about breastfeeding?

A: Even though breast milk is the most nutritious and complete source of food for infants, nationally less than 30% of infants are breastfed at 1 year of age. A major goal of the WIC Program is to improve the nutritional status of infants; therefore, WIC mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their infants, unless they can’t for medical reasons. Pregnant women and new WIC mothers are provided breastfeeding educational materials and support through counseling and guidance.

Q: What are some other things I didn’t know about WIC?

A: You may not have known that …  

• If you participate in another assistance program you automatically may be income-eligible for WIC.
• Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers.
• More than half of the infants in the U.S. participate in WIC.
• WIC participants support the local economy through their purchases.

Q: How do I apply for WIC?

A: To apply, contact a local WIC office at 561-357-6007 or 1-877-693-6703. The local WIC office will give you an appointment to see if you are eligible for the program. At this visit, your household income and medical /nutritional status will be reviewed. If you are eligible, you will receive benefits that can be used that same day.


USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

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