California Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) Application Information

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program - California is a federal funded health and nutrition program that serves pregnant, breastfeeding, and new mothers, infants and children below five years of age whose family income is low to moderate and are at nutrition risk. Unlike most welfare programs, WIC is a short-term intervention meant to give California's most vulnerable population the best possible start. This is done by providing nutritional education and healthy foods/supplements during critical stages of development so that children can achieve required nutritional status. Families that meet income guidelines are provided with checks for buying healthy foods/supplements , nutrition education and help finding other necessary community services.

WIC Program is geared towards preventing anemia, poor birth outcomes, such as infant deaths, low birth weight, childhood obesity and to generally improve the nutrition and health of its participants. It is a cost-effective public health program.

WIC agencies in California provide client-centered services such as individual and group education, breastfeeding information, monthly food checks and referrals to community services. All participants receive prescriptive supplemental foods along with nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals to attain life-long benefits of good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. This is a sure recipe for optimal growth, health and development.

All foods supplied to participants are specifically hand picked to provide consistency with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The selected foods also reinforce WIC nutrition education messages, address emerging public health nutrition issues including childhood obesity and provide wide appeal to the diverse WIC population.

Its a requirement that WIC agencies support breastfeeding as the main method of feeding and nurturing newborns. Breast milk contains the nutrients that infants need to grow and develop. Breastfed infants tend to be healthier since they receive antibodies from the breast milk which protects them against childhood infections. WIC goes a step further by suppling extra food to mothers who exclusively breastfeed their newborns.

California has the largest WIC program running 83agencies serving 1.5 million participants. Of these participants, 78% are Latinos, 5.5%African-Americans, 8% Caucasian, 5% Asian and Less than 1% Native American.

All WIC agencies are experienced, well-trained and culturally competent nutritionists who are family centered. Majority of WIC staff in California come from the local communities and are familiar with the language(s) of the community; most of them are current or former WIC participants.

Eligibility Requirements

Must have a gross income below 185% of the federal poverty level:

Number of persons in Family Unit Annual Income
1 $20,665
2 $27,991
3 $35,317
4 $42,643
5 $49,969
6 $57,295
7 $64,621
8 $71,942
More than 8 $7,326 per each additional family member
  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding women up to the infant's first birthday
  • New mothers up to six months after giving birth
  • Children up to the child's fifth birthday

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program Application Instructions

Steps to apply:

  1. Visit www.dss.cahwnet.gov, download and print an application form. A detailed list of county agency locations is available on this website.
  2. Carefully answer all questions on the application form. Provide as much data as possible.
  3. You may choose to return the completed application form in person to a local CDSS office or mail it to:

    California WIC Program
    Dept. of Public Health
    P.O. Box 997375
    Sacramento, CA 95899-7375
  4. 7. WIC applications are processed immediately and an eligibility personnel schedules a one on one interview to determine your benefit amounts. Applications delivered in person are processed as soon as they are received.
  5. 8. Interview in person with a social service worker, explains the program, calculate benefits and help you finish incomplete sections of the application forms. One on one interviews are necessary, but the eligibility personnel may decide to waive them depending on the situation. It is only after the interview that the food stamp office sends an explanation of benefits letter.

Remember vouchers and checks can be used to buy only WIC approved foods such as eggs, milk, juice, vegetables, peanut butter and dried beans. A full list of approved items is available at the WIC office.

For an online application, visit www.dss.cahwnet.gov.