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What is WIC?
WIC serves low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk. WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, and referrals to health and other social services to participants at no charge.
Where is WIC available?
The program is available in all 50 states, 34 Indian Tribal Organizations, America Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, Commonwealth Islands of the Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These 90 WIC state agencies administer the program through 2,200 local agencies and 9,000 clinic sites.
WIC is a Federal grant program for which Congress authorizes a specific amount of funding each year for program operations. The Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the program at the Federal level, provides these funds to WIC State agencies (State health departments or comparable agencies) to pay for WIC foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and administrative costs. Congress appropriated $7.25 billion for WIC in FY2010.
Who is eligible?
- Pregnant women (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or after pregnancy ends)
- Breastfeeding women (up to infant’s 1st birthday)
- Nonbreastfeeding postpartum women (up to 6 months after the birth of an infant or after pregnancy ends)
- Infants (up to 1st birthday)
- Children up to their 5th birthday
Applicants must meet income guidelines and a State residency requirement.
Can Men and other Caregivers participate?
Yes. WIC is for all kinds of families: married and single parents, working or not working. A father, mother, grandparent, stepparent, foster parent or other legal guardian of a child under 5 can also apply for WIC for a child.
How many people does WIC serve?
More than 9.3 million people get WIC benefits each month. Just over half of all babies born in the U.S. are enrolled in the WIC program.
Click here for a listing of the WIC populations by state.
What food benefits do WIC participants receive?
In most WIC State agencies, WIC participants receive checks or vouchers to purchase specific foods each month that are designed to supplement their diets with specific nutrients that benefit WIC’s target population. A few State agencies distribute the WIC foods through warehouses or deliver the foods to participants’ homes. Different foods are provided for different categories of participants.
WIC foods include iron-fortified infant formula and infant cereal, iron-fortified adult cereal, vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried beans/peas, and canned fish. Special therapeutic infant formulas and medical foods may be provided when prescribed by a physician for a specified medical condition. Soy-based beverages, tofu, fruits and vegetables, baby foods, whole-wheat bread, and other whole-grain options were recently added to better meet the nutritional needs of WIC participants.
What are the eligibility requirements for the Juice category?
- 100% natural, unsweetened juice
- Contains a minimum of 120%/30mg Vitamin C per 8 oz. serving
- No added sugars or sweeteners
- No food colors
- Only pasteurized juice allowed
What is the process for a product to become WIC eligible?
- The retailer must complete the application process to be State authorized vendor.
- The product formula must contain the necessary ingredients and meet the necessary requirements for the juice category.
What needs to be done to get a product eligible for WIC?
For both new and existing items:
- Create or modify the formula
- Create or change the item label (nutrition panel, artwork, and UPC)
How has Private Brand become a bigger player over the last several years related to WIC?
Historically, Private Brand was not included as part of the WIC food lists, but now Private Brand is allowed. Options vary by State.
What can retailers do to drive sales of Private Brand WIC items?
Educate consumers through communication efforts and improve awareness of:
1. The states that now accept Private Brand
2. The Private Brand options that are available
3. The value (price and quality) that Private Brand offers