Women Infant Children (WIC)
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a federal assistance program of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for healthcare and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of five. (See Child nutrition programs.) The eligibility requirement is a family income below 185% of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines. If a person participates in other benefit programs, or has family members who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, they automatically meet the eligibility requirements. This program is unrelated to the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Currently, WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States.
Food checks or an EBT card are issued to program participants that allow them to buy nutritious food that meets their needs at stores that have contracted with the government to accept these checks in exchange for merchandise.
WIC Laws and Regulations state, infant formula can only be changed from a non-contracted brand by medical documentation. It should be noted that the formula vouchers provided to the participant are not selected based upon nutritional or health benefits but upon lowest bidder status:
“Competitive bidding means a procurement process under which FNS or the state agency selects a single source (such as a single infant formula manufacturer offering the lowest price), as determined by the submission of sealed bids, for a product for which bids are sought for use in the Program.”
WIC participants are offered free health and nutrition education classes which help them understand their specific nutrition needs and learn about health prevention and improvement strategies.
Program participants receive guidance and assistance in accessing other important services such as prenatal programs, immunizations and child clinics, and drug and alcohol treatment programs.
Program participants also receive guidance and support materials from Certified Lactation Educators about the benefit of breastfeeding and proper breastfeeding techniques.