What are your options for putting food on the table as money gets tight due to COVID-19? You could use some of the money from $1,200 CARES Act stimulus checks, as well as $600 per week unemployment benefits, if you qualify.
Food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are another option. You could also look at local food banks and community options mentioned in the news.
Is that it, though? Or are there other ways to get the food your family needs to stay healthy during this pandemic? Luckily, that’s not it, as another way to stay fed is through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC.
To get you up to speed on how WIC works, let’s look at some common questions and answers on the program.
1. Who qualifies for WIC?
Here is a basic list of who is eligible for WIC:
- Women who are pregnant, in the postpartum stage, or are breastfeeding
- Children up to age five
Keep in mind that three other main requirements must be met to qualify for WIC beyond those in the list. First, income guidelines must be met. There are two ways to meet this requirement. You can either fall within the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines, which can be found here, or you can become automatically income-eligible via participation in other benefits programs.
For instance, if you or someone in your household receives SNAP benefits or Medicaid, that alone could satisfy WIC’s income requirements.
After income, comes the nutritional risk requirement. A health professional will determine this during what is often a free screening. They will take height and weight measurements, plus test the blood for anemia. Other tests may be performed as well to determine if you have a nutritional risk that falls into one of two categories:
- Medically-based risk – Problems related to pregnancy, underweight, anemia, etc.
- Diet-based risk – Deficient diet.
Lastly, you must meet the state residency requirement. This does not require you to live in a particular place for a specific period, but it does ask that you live in the state where you apply for benefits.
2. What type of benefits does WIC provide?
Beneficiaries of WIC food assistance can receive items similar to the following:
- Infant cereal
- Iron-fortified adult cereal
- Vegetable juice
- Vitamin C-rich fruit juice
- Peanut butter
- Dried and canned beans or peas
- Canned fish
- Soy-based beverages
- Baby foods
- Whole wheat bread
- Iron-fortified infant formula
Depending on the state agency, some food packages may be delivered to beneficiaries’ homes. Others may receive checks, vouchers, or EBT cards to make purchases of accepted foods.