Some of the most common questions I encounter on the net regarding pregnancy is “What type of state services will I be eligible for?”. “What is WIC and how do I apply?”. So I’m going to give you some information and links to help you along, as well as my personal experience regarding WIC. This post is quite long so follow the link to the full page.
First of all I’m going to assume that you’ve already heard of WIC and at least know something about them. If you don’t, you can reach their page on the net HERE.
But I’m embarrassed..
WIC can be a real lifesaver, especially during hard economic times like this so if you think you may be eligible it is within your right to seek out their help. Don’t feel discouraged or embarrassed, a lot more moms than you may realize use WIC.
Who is eligible?
Eligibility is based on income. Currently in my state as a breastfeeding mother in a family of 3 (Mom, Dad, baby) you are allowed to make up to $2700 monthly. If you are above that income level unfortunately you won’t be eligible. You can check our their rough income guidelines right HERE. Just be aware that each state can be different, some lower, some higher.
How do I contact them?
You can start out by locating either the website or the phone number for WIC in your state and you can find that list here: WIC state agencies.
What will I need to bring to the appointment?
The next step would obviously be to call and set up and appointment to meet with them. They will probably ask you to bring identification, proof of income and proof of pregnancy, which can consist of an ultrasound photo with your name on it. If you’ve already had your child then you can bring the child with you.
What can I expect at my appointment?
When you arrive for your appointment be prepared to wait up to 3 hours. It could be quick. It could be slow. Almost every time I go to the WIC office for an update (not to just pick up coupons) I wait at least 2 hours. Depending on the time of day there sometimes is only 2 or 3 seats available and screaming children everywhere.
If you are pregnant and it’s your first visit expect to have a prick test done so that they can test your Iron levels. You’ll also be weighed and there are a few forms you have to fill out. They will talk to you about breastfeeding and various other things and maybe even have you read up on different topics on their computer. When you’re all done with that you will probably have a seat in the waiting room until they call you up again and give you your coupons. You may have paper coupons or you may get something that they call a bridge card.
Can you explain more about the coupons and the card?
Hopefully you will get the card. The card is much more convenient and it is just a plastic card that looks like your visa or atm. All your coupons for the month are loaded onto the card and you can use it at any time. They will require you to make a pin number to use it before you leave and yes it is private. With the paper coupons, certain things will be bundled together. You will probably receive 3 or 4 of them. An example is: 2 gallons of milk, 2 lbs of cheese, 36 oz. of cereal, 2 juices. The reason I personally don’t like the coupons is because I end up wasting the milk or I get overloaded on the cheese because I have to buy them together on the same day. If you don’t use your coupons by the end of the month they will expire and you will have to move onto next months coupons. You cannot save the coupons up.
What can a pregnant woman expect to receive?
Pregnant women will receive somewhere in the vicinity of 3-4 medium juices (juicy juice etc.), 2 lbs of cheese, 4.5 gallons of milk, 2 cartons of eggs, 36 oz. of cereal and you choose between 1 jar of peanut butter or a bag of beans, both of which provide large amounts of protein. If you are lactose intolerant or have any other problems you will need to discuss that with an agent at your appointment. They do make exceptions but it is very rare.
What about after my baby is born?
What you do after the baby is born all depends on how you plan on feeding them. You should contact WIC asap after the birth. You will need to bring your baby into the office to be measured and weighed. If you decide to breastfeed you will continue to receive all of the above plus carrots and tuna. If you decide to breastfeed and formula feed you will receive the above for yourself and also formula for your infant. You will not receive the carrots and tuna but they may ‘up’ your amount of juice since breastfeeding mothers need to stay hydrated. The amount and type of formula they give you for your infant will vary. Currently my baby is on Enfamil Gentlease lipil due to being gassy. Eventually you can go up to a total of 10 cans per month. You may be able to get more if you don’t breastfeed but I am not aware of that because I am still partially breastfeeding. When your baby reaches 6 months of age they will start adding 16 oz. of baby cereal and a small amount of juice for baby onto your coupons.
How much money will I save if I receive WIC?
I’m not about to add up the total savings but I will tell you that 10 cans of formula per month costs roughly $150 – $180 a month. It won’t take as long as you think to work your way up to that many cans. On top of that the food you receive for yourself can come in handy because most of it are staples. Such as the eggs and the milk. Chances are if you qualify for WIC you also qualify for medicaid and food stamps even further reducing your costs each month, but we can discuss that another day.
Is there anything else I should know?
When you are approved for WIC you will also receive a tiny folder that contains your information such as appointment times, instructions on how to use your coupons or cards, a brochure that tells you exactly the type of food you are allowed to purchase and contact information. On the “folder” is a place to sign your name so that when you are at the store you can show them this to prove your identity. There is also a place for what they call a proxy to sign. Your significant other, mother, sister etc can sign this area and they will be able to pick up your coupons for you at the WIC office should you not be able to. Make sure you pick at least one person you trust to do this. You never know when something may come up.
You should also know that WIC will only give you coupons for approximately 3 months worth of food. After that time you will need to go back to their office to pick up more coupons. That appointment should not take as long as you do not have to bring your child with you. You will however have to bring your child back periodically and have them weighed and measured and they will ask you if things have changed, such as income or you have stopped breastfeeding.
If you have any other questions feel free to leave me a comment or you can find my email at the bottom of my blog down on the right hand corner. I hope this information came in handy for you. If it did, why not leave a message anyway and let me know. It may just brighten my day 🙂