More residents of Tallapoosa and Elmore counties may now be eligible for services provided by the Women, Infants and Children program as the income guidelines have increased about 2% from last year.
WIC, which falls under the Alabama Department of Public Health, is open to participants with incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty level, which is currently $12,760 for one person. This supplemental nutrition program provides necessities for pregnant women and children ages 5 and under.
“This is not a change due to COVID-19 or anything else,” East Central District nutrition director Alisa Champion said. “Every year our income guidelines go up about 2 or 3%.”
The newest guidelines are in effect through June 30, 2021.
“In any circumstance, when you increases the guidelines more people can qualify,” Champion said. “People that may or may not have been eligible in the past, it stretches it.”
For example, for a family of two — an unborn child counts as one — last year’s annual gross income was $31,284. Now to qualify for WIC, a family of two must make $31,894 or less. WIC is based on gross income and the number of people in a family.
“It’s a graduated system so the more people in the family, the more the amount goes up that you have to make that or under,” Champion said.
Families eligible for Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and similar government aid automatically qualify for WIC.
“We don’t have to look at the income in that instance,” Champion said.
Women who are prenatal or postpartum and have a nutritional risk also qualify for WIC.
“I’ve only been the WIC coordinator from 2017 and on but the average caseload each year is around 1,000 or more (for the East Central District),” Champion said. “When the coronavirus hit, we were able to hang on to our caseload through a waiver with the federal government to issue remote certifications thought June.”
Because the health department buildings are closed to the public, those wishing to apply to the assistance programs can mail in their information — including proof of residence, proof of identity and proof of income — and a staff member will call them for the certification process.
“We’re working month to month during the COVID-19,” Champion said. “We’re providing services from a distance.”
Pregnant women and children ages 1 to 5 years old receive milk, eggs, cheese, juice, cereal, dried beans and peas or peanut butter. Fresh fruit and vegetables have just been added as well.
Breastfed infants receive a variety of age-appropriate baby foods and breastfeeding mothers may receive breast pumps too. Non-breastfed infants receive infant formula, plus infant cereal, fruit and vegetables at appropriate ages.
Income eligibility guidelines
The guidelines, effective now until June 30, 2021, below are based on WIC applicants' gross income before taxes are withheld.
Family Size: 1
Family Size: 2
Family Size: 3
Family Size: 4
Family Size: 5
Family Size: 6
Family Size: 7
Family Size: 8
Family Size: 9
Family Size: 10
Information provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
* For a pregnant woman, count each unborn baby in the family size.