What is WIC and who qualifies to get benefits?

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 7:52 PM CDT|Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 7:53 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, has been mentioned in KY3′s recent stories about the formula shortage impacting families across the Ozarks. Viewers have since reached out to ask what the program is and who may be eligible.

The goal of the federally funded program is to help with the nutrition needs of young families.

Families do have to qualify for WIC benefits.

Program Coordinator Mary Ellison says one of the eligibility guidelines fits into five categories.

”You’re pregnant, post-partum up to six months, post-partum breastfeeding up to a year as long as you’re breastfeeding, an infant for the first year of life or up to the child’s fifth birthday, so those are the categories,” Ellison says.

If your family fits into any of those five categories, you may be able to get WIC benefits.

Ellison says income is the other factor. You need to be at 185% of poverty, which Ellison says would be an income of just over $51,000 a year for a family of four.

“You either qualify, or you don’t by income,” Ellison says. “Then the food package is prescribed, and it is designed to meet the nutritional needs of that pregnant mom, post-partum mom, breastfeeding mom, infant child.”

Since finding out she was pregnant with her baby girl, Heather Stout has been getting WIC benefits.

Stout says it has been a weight off of her shoulders financially.

“I only get a disability check once a month, and that’s not very much,” Stout says. “I think it’s $1038. That’s all I get a month, so mainly our bills come out of that. My husband does work, but it’s nice to know we have a little extra.”

Stout says this has been extremely helpful for getting formula for her baby.

“I know that no matter what, I’m going to be able to get formula without having to spend that extra $250-$300 a month,” Stout says.

Because you’re eligible for benefits until a child is five, Stout has peace of mind that she can make sure her daughter gets the proper nutrients needed for a healthy diet.

“I mean, fruits and vegetables are so expensive,” Stout says. “A lot of people can’t afford to give their child fruits and vegetables.”

The foods you’re eligible to get are particular, so WIC offers print-outs to those who are eligible. Those foods include specific baby formula brands, baby food, milk, cereal, peanut butter, and eggs, among other products.

Most stores around the Ozarks take WIC. Ellison says the ones that don’t include Target, Aldi, and some Harter Houses.

How it works is similar to that of a debit card.

“Your food package for yourself and any of your children will be loaded onto that card, so the benefits are on there for the month,” Ellison says. “It becomes active the first of the month and goes away at midnight at the end of the month. Then your next month’s worth of benefits will be on your card.”

To find out if you’re eligible, you can call the WIC office at 417-864-1540.

WIC is available at multiple locations in Greene County:

-The Missouri Career Center for Workforce Development on Mondays from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

-Renew United Methodist Church on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

-The Nest building on S. Scenic on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton catholic church on Thursdays from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

-O’Reilly Center for Hope on Fridays from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

That’s on top of the full-time location inside of Jordan Valley Community Health Center’s in Springfield and Republic. The hours for the Springfield location are 7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday - Thursday and 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Friday. The hours for the Republic location are 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Mondays and 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.

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