What is WIC?
WIC is a nutrition-related program of the Food and Nutrition Service sector of the USDA. This program is designed and specifically intended for “women, infants, and children” hence the term “WIC”. Specifically, the WIC program is aimed at a specialized form of supplemental nutrition needed by some mothers and their children. Covered under this program are pregnant and breast-feeding women who have low incomes and have children who are five years and below. But besides the usual nutritional or food aides given to eligible beneficiaries, the program also offers education, support, and information related to breast-feeding, proper child-rearing, and other concerns.
The women who can qualify to be a beneficiary of the program must belong to low-income families as per the guidelines set by the US federal government. In the case of families or persons that are already receiving aid from the government through food stamps or MedicAid, they are automatically eligible and can take part of the WIC nutrition program. This particular program started back in 1974 and covers all 50 states of the US, Washington D.C, with the addition of Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas.
Under this program, beneficiaries are usually given checks that they could use to buy certain foods in grocery stores. The system works similarly to the Food Stamps Program but differs in terms of what types of food are allowed to be bought. When using food stamps, any food item may be bought at designated grocery stores but under the WIC program, the benefit checks may only be used for food items that are officially listed as healthy and nutritious. The FNS publishes the list of food items that can be bought using the checks given to those who are eligible. Other than the beneficiary checks, the organization itself provides food items that are considered healthy and beneficial to the recepients.