WIC Approved Foods

When on the WIC program you are provided with your WIC food instruments (which list specific foods and quantities), WIC ID folder, cash-value vouchers (or in some cases a eWIC card), and a food list that shows what foods are approved to purchase with your benefits. This list is designed to supplement a participants diet with specific nutrients. Each state has their own WIC approved food list. To find out what items you can buy at a WIC approved store, select your state below.

WIC Approved Foods for Program Enrollees

Enrollees who are wondering what WIC approved foods they can purchase with their funds may be overwhelmed when grocery shopping. Other federal programs provide recipients with guidelines regarding how they can spend funds. However, WIC recipients have additional restrictions regarding what items they can spend their benefits on. This is because the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides new mothers and their young children with funds to purchase particular foods during these developmental years. This means that their purchases must meet specific nutritional criteria. To avoid any issues at the grocery store, recipients must be sure that they know what items are covered before they go shopping.

The purpose of providing new mothers and their children with WIC food benefits is to help ensure that vulnerable, low-income families have access to nutritious foods on a regular basis. Due to financial limitations, mothers and their children may be unable to purchase healthy meal options on their own. However, WIC benefits make it easier for families without much money to afford nutritious groceries each time they visit the supermarket. Therefore, enrollees should take the time to understand what types of items are purchasable with WIC funds and how these items can improve their own health and their children’s well-being.

How can WIC help families to be healthier?

For the most part, WIC recipients are new mothers who do not earn enough income to afford to provide their children with healthy meals on a regular basis. Additionally, program funds are available to pregnant women who are at risk of not receiving proper nutrition during the months before their children are born. To help ensure that mothers and children remain healthy during these formative years, families are awarded WIC benefits.

This program is similar to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides funds to low-income families throughout the country. However, WIC is slightly different not only because of the population it serves but also because of the foods enrollees can purchase with their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards.

Through the WIC program, enrollees may use program benefits to purchase only nutritious foods. This means that recipients must use their benefits to buy items such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products and whole grains. While one loaf of bread may look like another, the WIC food list is particular when it comes to outlining which items are approved and which are not. Generally, recipients can use their benefits to purchase items that fall within the following categories:

  • Carbohydrates – Cereals, breads and grains
  • Fruits and vegetables – Canned, frozen and fresh
  • Dairy – Milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.
  • Protein and beans – Canned fish, legumes, peanut butter, tofu, eggs, etc.
  • Infant food – Formula and canned food
  • Beverages – Juice and soy-based drinks

WIC Approved Foods

The items that fall within the WIC food guide are included in this list because they are regarded as economical, healthy food items. Pregnant women, postpartum mothers and early-age children are at critical development stages in their lives. For these reasons, it is important that these individuals have access to proper nutrition.

Items that appear on the WIC food list are intended to provide recipients with access to these vitamins and minerals, which they need to be healthy. However, not all products that fall within a single food group can be purchased using WIC funds. Therefore, enrollees must be aware of item-based eligibility requirements when they make their purchases.

Breads, Cereals and Other Carbohydrates

Generally, enrollees may use their WIC EBT cards to purchase different types of bread. The brand does not matter as much as the contents. Ultimately, recipients must be sure that they are eating whole wheat or whole grain bread. Beneficiaries may also use their funds to buy whole wheat or soft corn tortillas. Additionally, they can spend WIC benefits on whole wheat or whole grain versions of the following products:

  • Pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Barley

Regarding cereals, the WIC food center permits program participants to purchase only certain types. However, enrollees must be sure to pay attention to the iron and sugar counts for these items. Generally, beneficiaries may also purchase hot and cold cereals, including:

  • Corn and bran flakes.
  • Regular and instant oatmeal.
  • Cream of wheat and grits.

Juices and Peanut Butter

Enrollees may use their funds to purchase pre-packaged juices only if they meet WIC’s nutrition guidelines. One of the most important requirements for these items is that they must consist of 100 percent pasteurized, unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice. These items must also include the proper concentration of Vitamin C. For these reasons, enrollees may not use their WIC benefits to purchase fruit imitation beverages, sodas or any other related drinks that are not made of real juice.

Dairy Products and Substitutes

Various dairy products are included in the WIC approved foods list. Regarding cow’s milk, enrollees may purchase whole, low-fat, reduced fat and nonfat versions of these products. Likewise, beneficiaries can also buy flavored and evaporated milk. They can also use their WIC EBT card to buy lactose-free milk. Alternatively, enrollees who would prefer a milk substitute can buy soy milk with their benefits.

According to the WIC food guide, enrollees may also use their funds to buy different types of cheeses, as long as these items are not cheese-based spreads or imported cheeses. Likewise, enrollees can use their benefits to purchase low-sugar yogurt options. However, they are prohibited from using benefits to buy drinkable yogurts and yogurts that come with granola or candy.

Eggs, Tofu and Fish

Candidates may use their WIC card to purchase calcium-set tofu. However, these products may not include added ingredients, such as fat, oil, sodium or sugar. Regarding eggs, enrollees may purchase:

  • Eggs of any color that come from domestic hens.
  • Whole, liquid eggs that have been pasteurized.
  • Dried egg mixes.

Daily nutrition guidelines recommend that individuals consume fish. Recipients may use their funds to buy:

  • Light tuna.
  • Salmon.
  • Sardines.
  • Certain types of mackerel.

Fruits, Vegetables and Legumes

Adult and child nutrition guidelines recommend that individuals consume several servings of fruit and vegetables each day. For this reason, WIC permits enrollees to use their benefits to purchase regular and organic versions of these foods. While most fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are eligible for purchase with WIC, beneficiaries must be sure that they do not try to spend their funds on:

  • Seasonings, such as spices.
  • Fruits that come packaged with nuts.
  • Fruit or salad bar items.
  • Baked goods that include fruit.
  • Canned vegetables that come with cream sauces.

Additionally, recipients may use their WIC card to buy dry or canned beans. Examples of acceptable items include kidney beans, black-eyed peas and lentils. However, recipients cannot use their benefits to buy canned beans that come with meat or premade soups that contain beans.

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Infant Foods and Formulas

Since infants are eligible to enroll in the WIC program, there are specific foods that their mothers can purchase for them. Many versions of WIC-approved baby food, including meat, vegetables, fruit cereal and formula are covered through this program. However, recipients must be sure that these items do not include added sugars and similar ingredients.

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