Statewide data before and since the pandemic show that only about one-half of potentially eligible New Yorkers participate in NYS WIC’s public health services.
The NYS Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides breastfeeding support, nutrition counseling, health education, health care referrals, referrals to other services, and nutritious foods to approximately 370,000 women, infants and children each month through 90 local providers (hospitals, local health departments and community-based organizations) at 400 service sites. The fundamental purpose of the program is to ensure the health and well-being of income-eligible families with young children. WIC provides individually tailored food prescriptions issued to each participant for specific foods that meet strict nutrition requirements. These food benefits, valued at over $300 million annually, can be redeemed at more than 2,800 authorized retail food vendors across the state.
Nutrition education is the program benefit that sets WIC apart from other nutrition assistance programs. Professional nutrition staff provide WIC nutrition education and counseling at no cost to participants. WIC nutritionists help participants connect the relationship between nutrition, physical activity, and health. Nutrition education is tailored to the participant to assist them in achieving optimal health outcomes and preventing nutrition-related problems in the future.
To qualify to receive WIC public health services and benefits, applicants must meet categorical, residency, income, and nutrition risk eligibility requirements. Applicants must provide proof of residency, income, and identity at initial and subsequent certifications.
For example, currently, a working family of four can have $51,338 in yearly income ($4,086 monthly gross)and qualify. (See all household size income guidelines here.) An unborn child can be counted as a household member. Dads, grandparents, and caregivers of children, working families, and non-U.S. citizens can qualify, too. A person who participates or has family members who participate in SNAP or TANF automatically meets the income eligibility requirement.
NOTE: A pregnant woman or an infant who participates in the Medicaid program, or a pregnant woman who has been determined presumptively eligible for Medicaid, meets the income eligibility requirement and qualifies their household as well.
Applicants must be a resident of New York State, but immigration status is never considered for WIC eligibility.WIC is committed to serving persons who speak languages other than English and has many materials translated into 20 languages. Interpreters are available at no cost to the applicant/participant.
Recent WIC Modernizations
- Since 2019, NYS WIC food benefits are provided on an eWIC card, which works like a debit card. Participants can buy their WIC-approved foods as they want throughout the month. (This replaces paper vouchers and the requirement to purchase all monthly foods at once.)
- Since 2020, and until at least 90 days after the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency ends, WIC may enroll and serve participants remotely via phone, text, or videoconference, and remotely load food benefits onto a participant’s eWIC card.
- Currently through September 30, 2022, WIC kids and moms will get $24-47 per person per month on their eWIC card to buy their choice of fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, or canned in 100% juice).
- WIC2Go is a free mobile app that helps participants find WIC-approved stores and WIC clinics, scan foods at the market to see if they are WIC-approved, check their WIC benefit balance and view their next appointment. Partners and providers can also download the app from their app store to find WIC approved stores and clinics near them.
- Wanda, NYSDepartment of Health’s new 24/7 Virtual Assistant, is the easy 3-minute way for families to learn if they may qualify for WIC and be connected with a local WIC agency. Currently in English, Wandaasks quick prescreening questions, and if a person agrees, sends their contact information to their local WIC agency for follow-up and to complete a remote certification process.
Trusted Messengers Can Help
Among various print and social media outreach for WIC on the WICHelpNY Resource Center, partners and providers can bulk order the Wanda postcard free of charge for public distribution. The postcard includes a QR code that takes the individual directly to Wanda’s opening prescreen page.
To increase referrals and ultimately participation, local WIC Agencies seek to partner with perinatal and pediatric providers. Please complete this 1-minute survey to share how they might best connect with perinatal and pediatric providers.
To keep up to date on policy and resources you can easily share, subscribe to WIC Help NY eNews alerts.
To connect families and older patients with community outreach workers who can help them connect with or apply for additional USDA child nutrition programs such as SNAP, summer meals, and school meals, visit FoodHelpNY.org.