Frequently Asked Questions

What is WIC?
WIC is a Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. It is federally funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.
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How is WIC funded?
WIC is funded by an appropriation from Congress to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA allocates monies to the various States and Territories(American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) Health Departments. Various local WIC agencies receive funds based on the number of WIC participants they serve.

WIC is also funded, in part, by private industry. WIC generates revenue through competitive bidding on some of the foods the WIC program provides.This is inclusive of a rebate. In California, 25% of all women on WIC are funded by private industry through this process.
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How long has WIC been around?
The WIC Program was started as a pilot program in California and Pineville, Kentucky in 1974 and was adopted as a major, nation-wide program in 1975.
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Where is WIC available?
WIC is available in all 50 States and in the United States territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Click here for the locations of all the American Red Cross WIC Clinics in San Diego County.
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What is the connection between the American Red Cross and the WIC Program?
The American Red Cross WIC Program is unique to San Diego . The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter is currently the only American Red Cross chapter in the country that administers the WIC Program. This WIC/Red Cross partnership developed when the WIC Program was first initiated in the state of California in 1974. Red Cross Nursing personnel were working with pregnant, inner city teens and saw that administration of the WIC Program seemed a perfect way to assist these young mothers. The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross proudly brings a 100 year history of health promotion and humanitarian service to our administration of the WIC Program.
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What does WIC provide?

  • Special checks, also called vouchers, for nutritious food
  • Nutrition classes
  • Individual nutrition counseling
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Community referrals

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What types of foods may be purchased with the special checks/vouchers?
Only foods which are high in Vitamin A&C, protein, iron and calcium are provided as part of the WIC program. These are the nutrients which are vital to good health and development of pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, and children. The foods the WIC program provides include eggs, milk, cheese, beans, peanut butter, iron fortified infant and adult cereals and Vitamin C juices. Breastfeeding women receive extra checks which also include tuna and carrots. While it is the hope of American Red Cross WIC that all of our mothers will choose breastfeeding as the ideal infant feeding choice, artificial baby milk (infant formula) is also provided.

WIC special checks (also called vouchers) are issued for very specific foods in specific amounts, to ensure that the best possible nutrition is provided at the lowest possible cost.
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Who is eligible for WIC?
In order to be eligible for WIC, you must:

  1. Be in a group WIC serves. What groups does WIC serve?
  2. Meet the income guidelines. What are the income guidelines?
  3. Have a nutritional need which can be improved by WIC. What do you mean by nutritional need?
  4. Live in an area served by WIC.

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What about undocumented immigrants?
Families living in the U.S. undocumented or who have applied for citizenship do qualify for WIC.  Their application or legal status will not be jeopardized in any way.
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What groups does WIC serve?

  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding women up to one year postpartum
  • Non-breastfeeding women up to six months postpartum
  • Postpartum women with special circumstances (such as miscarriage or adoption) up to six months postpartum
  • Infants and children under age 5
  • Single fathers with eligible children
  • All foster children under 5

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What do you mean by "nutritional need?"
WIC is not an entitlement program.  That means eligibility is not solely based on household income. All WIC participants are screened for risk by trained staff.
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Who is income eligible?
WIC income eligibility is based on 185% of poverty level. The guidelines consider total household size and income. WIC helps all eligible families on public assistance, but also assists families with working parents. Many low to moderate income families are eligible and do not realize it. Click here for qualifications.
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What is the WIC enrollment process?
The following requirements are necessary for WIC enrollment:

  1. Proof of address
  2. Identification (i.e. drivers license, state ID)
  3. Proof of income (i.e. pay stub)
  4. WIC referral form completed by health care provider and/or doctor
  5. The child, infant, or woman enrolling must be present

*If a client does not have a health care provider or other necessary documentation, WIC staff members will assist the participant in meeting these requirements.
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What to do I do if I miss a WIC appointment?
If you can't make an appointment call us at 1-800-500-6411 to reschedule.
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What do I do if I can't obtain WIC requested blood work? Come to your WIC appointment anyway. Our staff will provide you with a free referral to obtain blood work, if needed.
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What about program integrity in the WIC Program?
Many fraud controls exist within the WIC Program. WIC participants must provide proof of income, identification and address upon enrollment and at six-month intervals thereafter. All WIC agencies in California use the ISIS (Integrated Statewide Information System) computer system, which is linked with Medi-Cal. Any attempt at dual participation in the WIC Program is detected through cross checks in ISIS .

Local WIC agencies are audited frequently by the State WIC Branch for program compliance. The State Vendor Management Unit works with supermarkets which accept WIC coupons to detect fraud in redemption.
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Is WIC Effective?
Over 70 studies have proven the effectiveness of WIC.

  • Participation in WIC reduces anemia levels in children. Anemia is a serious nutritional problem which makes it difficult for children to learn and pay attention.
  • WIC families eat more nutritious foods.
  • WIC children have better immunization rates.
  • WIC participation reduces infant mortality.
  • WIC improves pregnancy outcomes.
  • Pregnant women who participate in WIC seek prenatal care earlier.
  • A study was conducted comparing (a) WIC children and (b) children who did not participate in WIC. Group (a)'s mothers enrolled in WIC during pregnancy and their children continued on WIC until graduation from the program at age 5. Group (b)'s mother were eligible for WIC, but for one reason or another, did not participate. The study showed that the WIC children from group (a) had better visual-motor abilities, better vocabularies and better memories.
  • For every $1 spent on WIC there is an average savings of $4.21 in Medicaid costs

How can I get more information about the WIC program?
If you have any additional questions about the American Red Cross WIC Program, San Diego :

Please call 1-800-500-6411
Or email: wicinfo.sandiegoca@redcross.org
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