Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a supplemental food program that provides nutrition education, growth tracking, iron screenings, and foods such as: whole grains (tortillas, bread, rice, hot/ cold cereal, and pasta), milk, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, fresh fruits and veggies, yogurt, fruit juice, baby foods, and dry beans. It also provides soy milk, goat’s milk, and canned tuna or salmon to qualified participants.

Since 1974, WIC has been helping low to mid-income families with pregnant women, infants, and children up to the age of 5. “Our income guidelines are higher than Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), so even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid or SNAP, you may qualify for WIC,” says Kathy Puckett, WIC Director at Southeastern Idaho Public Health.

WIC programs in Southeastern Idaho will begin the transition from paper checks to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards next month. This will make shopping easier and more discreet for WIC participants. In most stores, clients will no longer have to separate their WIC foods from non-WIC foods. According to Puckett, “This is very exciting, because participants will have the option of buying only a few WIC foods at a time as opposed to having to purchase everything listed on the paper check at one time. It will be a huge convenience and time saver if all they need is a gallon of milk and some eggs. Some stores are even getting set up to allow WIC participants to use the self-checkout lanes.”

“There have recently been some concerns about immigration status and WIC participation. It’s important to note that participation in WIC does not count as Public Charge,” said Puckett. Earlier this month, acting director of the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ken Cuccinelli announced the final rule on Public Charge expands an immigration law provision that penalizes legal immigrants from accessing certain public benefit programs. Under the final rule, an individual’s use of SNAP, Medicaid, or housing subsidies would weigh against their petition for legal status. These changes will not go into effect until Oct. 15. While WIC is not included in the final rule, the change to immigration policy will penalize families for lawfully accepting Medicaid assistance or SNAP benefits. Fortunately, WIC will still be here to help those families.

WIC serves approximately 4,000 people each month in 10 clinics in Southeast Idaho, including Preston.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call the Pocatello WIC Office at 208-239-5263.