WIC Program Overview
California WIC serves approximately 1 million participants statewide each month. Approximately 60 percent of all California resident births in a given year are eligible for the WIC Program. To be eligible, applicants' annual household income must fall at or below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines (currently $51,338 annually for a family of four) and deemed to have a nutritional risk.
Current recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/CalFresh), Medi-Cal beneficiaries, or persons receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF/CalWorks), are adjunctively eligible.
California WIC contracts with 83 local agencies that operate 500 service sites statewide. The WIC local agencies, which include local health departments and non-profit agencies, certify participant eligibility, provide nutrition education and counseling as well as breastfeeding support, and provide referrals to healthcare and other community resources. In addition, the WIC local agencies issue the California WIC Card for families to purchase specific foods that provide key nutrients needed by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, infants and young children. The WIC Program recognizes and promotes breastfeeding as the natural source of nutrition and immunity from disease for infants. For women who choose to not fully breastfeed their infants, participants are provided with monthly benefits to purchase iron-fortified infant formula. Participants can use their WIC Card to purchase nutritious food items at nearly 4,000 WIC-authorized grocery stores throughout California. In addition, many WIC families are provided checks to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs from local WIC authorized farmers' markets through the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program.
In federal fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019), WIC served about 6.4 million participants per month nationwide, including nearly one million participants per month in California. In California, nearly 60% of infants born each year are eligible for WIC.
California has 83 local WIC agencies, which can include county health departments, federally qualified health centers, non-profit agencies, and other types of organizations such as universities. These agencies provide WIC services in more than 500 sites throughout California.
California has nearly 4,000 authorized vendors/grocers where WIC participants can use their WIC Card.
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