Frequently Asked Questions 

FAQs: Infants | Juice |Milk | Peanut Butter | Prescriptions |Cash Value Benefit

Q: What is WIC?

Answer: WIC is the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children.  WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals to other health services.  WIC serves eligible pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to age 5.

Q: Who is eligible?

Answer: Pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 are eligible for WIC.  They must meet income guidelines, live in Arkansas, and be individually determined to be at “nutritional risk” by a health professional.  To be eligible on the basis of income, applicants’ family income must fall at or below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines.  Applicants who receive Medicaid, ARKids, TEA or SNAP are automatically income eligible

Q: Where is WIC available?

Answer: The Arkansas WIC Program is available at every Local Health Unit in all 75 counties.  In addition, there are satellite clinics and three WIC-only clinics that only offer WIC services.  You may apply and receive WIC at any of the sites in Arkansas.

Q: What is nutritional risk?

Answer: Nutritional risk is determined by a health professional such as a physician, registered dietitian, or nurse and is based on federal guidelines.  There are two major types of “nutritional risk” recognized for WIC eligibility:

  • Medically-based risk such as anemia, underweight, overweight, history of pregnancy complications, or poor pregnancy outcomes.
  • Dietary risks such as failure to meet the dietary guidelines or inappropriate nutrition practices.

Q: How many people does WIC serve?

Answer: The Arkansas WIC Program serves an average of 95,000 participants each month.

Q: What food benefits do WIC participants receive?

Answer: Arkansas WIC participants receive WIC Food Checks and Cash Value Benefit Checks (CVBs) to purchase specific foods each month that are designed to supplement their diets with specific nutrients.

WIC foods include iron-fortified infant formula, infant cereal, infant baby food fruits and vegetables, iron-fortified adult cereal, vitamin C-rich juice, milk, cheese, eggs, whole grains, dried or canned beans, fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, and canned fish.  Special infant formulas may be provided when prescribed by a physician for a specific medical condition.  A soy-based beverage is also available as a milk alternative; however a prescription is required for children.

Q: How do WIC participants receive their foods?

Answer: The Arkansas WIC Program provides food checks and Cash Value Benefit (CVBs) checks that participants use at WIC-authorized grocery stores.  The food check list the foods and quantities and the CVBs show the dollar amount of fruits and vegetables that can be purchased at the WIC-authorized grocery store.

Q: What is the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program?

Answer: The WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program provides food checks that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmer’s markets and authorized farmers. A variety of fresh nutritious, unprepared locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs may be purchased with the coupons.  Nutrition education is provided by the WIC Program to encourage participants to improve and expand their diets by adding fruits and vegetables they buy with their Farmers’ Market coupons.

Infants

Q: Why am I getting less formula?  OR Why did my formula amount change?

Answer: Formula amounts change with the baby’s age. Babies needs increases as they grow in the first few months so the amount of formula increases.  When you start feeding foods such as infant cereal and baby foods (usually around 6 months of age), the amount of formula decreases and new foods are added to the infant’s food package.

Q: Why don’t I get juice for my baby?

Answer: Juice has been replaced by infant fruits and vegetables.

Q: Can I get more formula if I don’t take the infant foods?

Answer: WIC is not allowed to issue more formula in place of infant foods for normal healthy infants. 

Q:  Why can’t my partially breastfeeding infant receive more than one can of formula the first month of life?

Answer: To help protect mother’s milk supply, only one can of formula will be issued from WIC to breastfeeding infants up to one month of age.

WIC wants to support mom’s breastfeeding establishment. WIC offers breastfeeding education and guidance, referrals to breastfeeding professionals, and enhanced food package, breast pumps, etc.

Juice

Q: Can I receive more juice in place of my fruits and vegetables?

Answer: No

Milk

Q: Why do I have to get whole milk for my child under 2 years old?

Answer: Most babies’ doctors recommend whole milk only for children under the age of 2.

USDA follows the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for feeding infants and toddlers.  These guidelines recommend whole milk only for all children under the age of 2.

Q: Why can’t anyone over the age of 2 get whole milk?

Answer: Doctors recommend reducing the amount of fat in the diet for people over the age of 2.
 
One of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the diet.  Because of this, only reduced fat, low-fat, or fat free milk will be issued to anyone age 2 or older.

Q: Why can’t I get chocolate milk?

Answer: Chocolate milk has not been approved by the Arkansas WIC Program.

Peanut Butter

Q: How do I get peanut butter on my food package? 

Answer: You will be told if you qualify for peanut butter and your food package will be adjusted to meet your needs.

Prescriptions

Q: Why do I have to have a prescription for soy milk for my child?

Answer: Soy milk and regular cow’s milk are different and contain some different nutrients, it is necessary that a prescription be written so that WIC knows that your child’s doctor is aware of the foods your child is eating.

Q: Why do I need a prescription for certain formula?

Answer: When WIC receives a prescription from a doctor, it lets us know they are under a doctor’s supervised care and that he has prescribed that you use a special formula for your baby.

Q: Why do I have to have a prescription to receive food in addition to my formula?

Answer: Since the doctor has prescribed formula, WIC needs the doctor to approve the food amounts that are right for you (or your child).

Cashing WIC Food Checks and Cash Value Benefits

Q: How do I know what food to get?

Answer: Your check(s) will have the exact amount and type of food to get. You will also receive a WIC Food List and Shopping Guide to help you at the store.

Q: Where do I cash my checks?

Answer: You can cash your checks at any WIC approved store. There will be a sign in the store window that says ‘WIC Accepted Here’.

Q: Where do I sign my checks?

Answer: Checks are signed in the bottom right hand corner, just like when you write a personal check. Do not sign them before you go to the store.

Fruits and Vegetables / Cash Value Benefit (CVB)

Q: What is the Cash Value Benefit (CVB)?

Answer: The CVB is a check that you can purchase fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables of your choice.  Women and children WIC participants receive CVBs as part of their monthly food package.

Q: Why can’t I get white potatoes with my cash value benefit check?

Answer:The WIC Program does not allow any potatoes except yams or sweet potatoes.

Q: Can I use my cash value benefit check and my child’s cash value benefit check to make one large purchase?

Answer: Yes.

Q: Do I have to use the cash value benefit check at the same time as my other WIC food checks?

Answer: No.

Q: What if my fruit and vegetable purchase cost more than the dollar amount printed on my cash value benefit?

Answer: You may pay any extra over your cash value benefit.  You can pay any way that you would pay for groceries include SNAP EBT.  You will have to pay taxes on the portion of the cost over your cash value benefit.