WIC To Help Kids And Moms Eat But Finding What You Need Is Difficult
The WIC Program is helping more than 6 Million people by providing food for women, infants, and children.
Bianca Williams was unable to find a store that either accepted federal food benefits for low-income mothers along with their children or a store providing quality produce to the people.
The Milwaukee resident had seven kids out of which two were breastfed. The resident decided that she would look forward to Frozen Thanksgiving leftovers and food from family and friends.
Supplemental Nutrition Program For Women And Children known as WIC benefitted more than 6 Million people in the U.S. but the main difficulty is to find fresh produce, baby formula, and other nutritious items approved by WIC.
When the closest Walmart shut down in 2016, Williams found WIC to be of much hassle. Williams said, “Sometimes, to be honest, I don’t even use it because it’s so hard to get to and from the grocery store, and find a vendor that does accept (WIC).”
Currently, items approved by the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program cannot be purchased online, a limitation not shared with food stamps. However, several states are experimenting with pilot programs to enable online purchasing for WIC items. The complexity of WIC’s requirements poses challenges for both small and large grocery stores to participate in the program. Efforts are underway in some states to broaden access to WIC, especially after a decline in participating vendors over the past five years, which was exacerbated by program changes and closures during the pandemic.
Both SNAP and WIC programs are under the U.S. Department of Agriculture but WIC differs from SNAP because SNAP participants can buy almost any grocery item they want irrespective of their nutritional value. However, in WIC, states make use of the federal guidelines to choose products and quantities that vendors need to carry.
According to the National Grocers Association, which represents independent stores, many smaller stores participate in the WIC program to support community needs, but this involvement often comes with financial challenges.
WIC Programs are making a transition from paper vouchers to electronic benefits due to which, it has become easier for shoppers and stores to spend money on upgrading cash registers.
Nearly half of the target stores accept WIC because there are different sizes and layouts. Ashley Yancey was struggling to find a formula for her daughter and was shocked to find out that the store was not accepting WIC program support. And as far as her nearest WIC vendor is concerned, then that is often out of product.
Yancey said, “It’s harder that I can’t get my milk like that. I have to borrow somebody’s car to go look for the milk, just to not find the milk. It is inconvenient that they don’t take WIC online.”
The number of WIC stores has dramatically decreased in states but its most impact is going to be felt in rural areas. There have been 68 WIC vendors in Louisiana since 2019 but it is still working on a recruitment plan for stores.
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Hunter Kenya. “WIC helps moms and kids eat. But finding what you need isn’t always easy”. ABC News, January 5, 2024,
WIC helps moms and kids eat. But finding what you need isn’t always easy – ABC News (go.com)
Last Updated: September 20, 2021