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 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for healthcare and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five.
The basic eligibility requirement is a family income below 185% of the federal poverty level. Most states allow automatic income eligibility, where a person or family participating in certain benefits programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, may automatically meet the income eligibility requirements. Currently, WIC serves 53% of all infants born in the US.
The food items provided by WIC are juice, milk, breakfast cereal, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread, whole grain items including brown rice and tortillas, fish (canned)(for Exclusively Breastfed Mothers), legumes (dry/canned), and peanut butter. The program also provides tofu, soy milk, and medical foods for children and women with various metabolic or other diseases. The food packages provide participant choice and variety. Foods such as tortillas, brown rice, soy-based beverage, canned salmon, and a wide choice of fruits and vegetables provide State agencies flexibility in prescribing culturally appropriate food packages.
Organic fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains are covered under WIC while organic milk, cheese, juice, peanut butter and eggs are not covered under the program. Some organic forms of WIC-eligible foods (e.g., milk, eggs, cheese) meet the nutritional requirements set forth in WIC regulations and are therefore authorized. However, WIC State agencies are responsible for determining the brands and types of foods to authorize on their State WIC food lists. Some State agencies may allow organic foods on their foods lists, but this will vary by State. The decision may be influenced by a number of factors such as cost, product distribution within a State, and WIC participant acceptance.