Women, Infants, & Children (WIC)

About WIC

Food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services are provided to low-income women, infants, and children under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, popularly known as WIC.

WIC provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children who are found to be at nutritional risk.

History

Established as a pilot program in 1972 and made permanent in 1974, WIC is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Formerly known as the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, WIC’s name was changed under the Healthy Meals for Healthy Americans Act of 1994, in order to emphasize its role as a nutrition program.

Most State WIC programs provide vouchers that participants use at authorized food stores. A wide variety of State and local organizations cooperate in providing the food and health care benefits, and 46,000 merchants nationwide accept WIC vouchers.

WIC is effective in improving the health of pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants. A 1990 study showed that women who participated in the program during their pregnancies had lower Medicaid costs for themselves and their babies compared to women who did not participate. WIC participation was also linked with longer gestation periods, higher birth weights and lower infant mortality.

WIC Services

Examples of where WIC services are provided:

  • County health departments

  • Hospitals

  • Mobile clinics (vans)

  • Community centers

  • Schools

  • Public housing sites

  • Migrant health centers and camps

  • Indian Health Service facilities

Who can receive these services?

  • Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who just had a baby

  • Infants and children under 5 years old (including foster children)

  • Families with a low to medium income

What services are offered?

  • Special checks to buy healthy foods like milk, juice, eggs, cheese, cereal, dry beans or peas, and peanut butter

  • Information about nutrition and health to help you and your family eat well and be healthy

  • Information about and help with breastfeeding

  • Help in finding health affordable care and other services in your area

How can I apply for WIC benefits? (WIC Participant)

Use the Pre-Screening Tool at http://wic.fns.usda.gov/wps/pages/start.jsf to find out if you might qualify for WIC benefits.

Services are provided in communities throughout the state. Use the DHS Office Locator to find your local Women, Infants and Children office near you. Make an appointment and find out what papers or documents you need to bring with you. At your appointment, WIC staff will check to see if you and your family qualify. If you need assistance, contact the State WIC Office at (217) 782-2166.

How can I apply to accept WIC at my store?

(WIC Vendor) If you are interested in accepting the special checks (WIC Food Instruments) at your store, information is available by calling the State WIC Office at (217) 782-2166. If you would like a toll-free option, you can call the DHS Helpline at (800) 843-6154.

“Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of year.” 

Franklin P. Adams

We provide quality health care to West Alabama.

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