Applying For Michigan WIC

Michigan WIC (Women, Infants and Children) is handled by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. They are responsible for determing the eligibility requirements, application process and are in charge of providing the benefits and services to WIC participants. The Michigan WIC program aims to protect the health of low income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to the age of 5 who are at a nutritional risk. This is done through WIC approved nutritious foods you can purchase using paper vouchers/checks, or in some states your WIC EBT card.

Nutrition Risk Requirements

Anyone who applies for Michigan WIC benefits must be seen by a health professional such as a physician, nurse, or nutritionist. They must determine whether the applicant is at a nutrition risk. In most cases, this can be done at a local WIC clinic at no cost to the applicant. However, if need be, this information can be obtained from another health professional such as the applicants doctor. Being a nutrition risk means that an individual has a medical-based or dietary-based condition.

For medical-based condition it could be anemia, underweight or a history of poor pregnacy outcome. For a dietary-based condition, this could include having a poor diet. At a minimum, the applicant's height and weight must be taken and bloodwork drawn up to check for anemia. An applicant must have at least one of the medical or dietary conditions listed on the state's list of WIC nutrition risk criteria.

WIC Prescreening

Before applying for the MI WIC program, you can see if you are potentially eligible through the online Prescreening Tool. Please note, this tool is not considered an application. You still need to follow the application process for this state. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

The Michigan WIC program provides:

Foods for Infants (Birth-12 Months)
The Michigan WIC program provides and encourages support for breastfeeding. Iron-fortified infant formula is used for infants who are not fully breastfed for the first year of their life. The state contracts with one of the formula companies that provide the formula at a reduced price. At six months, infants may then also receive infant cereal and fruits and vegetables for infants. For infants that are fully breastfed, they may also receive meats specified for infants. If an infant has a specific medical need, they may receive a special formula.

Foods for Women and Children
Pregnant and postpartum women and children (under 5 years of age) participating in Michigan WIC receive food benefits for milk, cheese, eggs, cereals, peanut butter, dry beans/peas or canned beans/peas, and fruit or vegetable juices, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain choices to include breads, tortillas, brown rice and oatmeal. Women who exclusively breastfeed their babies may also receive extra food, including canned tuna fish.

Special formulas or nutritional supplements are also available to participating women and children who have certain medical conditions.

Nutrition Education
The MI WIC nutrition education assists participants with:

  • Infant and toddler feeding
  • Breastfeeding
  • Prenatal weight gain
  • Anemia or iron deficiency
  • Child growth and development and other nutrition related health issues

High Risk Nutrition Counseling
Registered Dietitians at WIC provide individualized high risk nutrition counseling for participants with special medical conditions or nutrition-related health issues.

Health Care Referrals
WIC works closely with the health care community, receiving referrals from private and public health care providers and providing referrals as needed for health and social services. WIC refers participants for immunizations, substance abuse counseling and treatment, prenatal care, smoking cessation, lead screening, the Healthy Kids/MI Child program, and more.

The Michigan WIC program encourages persons already receiving medical services to remain under their physicians' care. WIC also encourages well-child visits and routine health and dental care.

Breastfeeding Promotion and Support
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of life. All WIC agencies have trained personnel ready to assist mothers with the basics of breastfeeding.

Many Michigan WIC agencies have breastfeeding peer counselor support programs that provide mother-to-mother counseling. In addition, WIC agencies provide educational resources and breast pumps for returning to work or school.

Michigan Project FRESH

The Michigan WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), also known as Project FRESH, provides eligible WIC participants with coupons to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets. WIC participants receive these nutrition benefits in addition to their food package and nutrition education.

The Project FRESH program enhances farmers' earnings and supports participation in farmers' markets. This program partners with the Michigan State University Extension, local farmers and farmer's markets to promote healthy eating and fruit and vegetable consumption.

Michigan WIC Eligibility

To be eligible for MI WIC benefits, applicants must meet all of the following 4 requirements:

Categorical Requirement
Fit into one of the categories listed below.

  • Pregnant Women
  • Breastfeeding Women up to 1 year from delivery
  • Postpartum Women up to 6 months from delivery
  • Infants
  • Children up to their 5th birthday

Residential Requirement
Be a resident of the state of Michigan. US citizenship is not required.

Income Requirement
Be at or below 185% of Federal Poverty Guidelines or on Medicaid or SNAP (Food stamps). To see if you qualify, view the Michigan WIC Income Guidelines.

Nutrition Risk Requirement
To qualify, the WIC staff must determine if you are at a nutrition and/or health risk. Some typical health risks are: low blood iron or anemia; too much or too little weight gain (for pregnant women and children), poor diet, chronic disease, and developmental disabilities.

To start the application process for Michigan WIC benefits, simply call your local WIC clinic to schedule an appointment. Or you can call 211 to have someone help you find a local WIC clinic.

Michigan WIC Appointment

You need to bring the following information to your appointment:

  • Proof of income or Medicaid Card
  • Proof of identification for the applicant (drivers license, birth certificate
  • Proof of applicant's address
  • Proof of pregnancy, if available (for Pregnant Women)
  • Immunization record (for children)

If you have additional questions or issues about what you need, please contact your local WIC office.

When someone applies for the MI WIC program the following steps are taken:

  • Review of income, residency, and identity
  • Review of health and medical history
  • Review of usual dietary intake and eating patterns
  • Review of immunization record (children only)
  • Height & weight measurements taken
  • Hemoglobin test performed (over 6 months of age)
  • Meet with health professional for determination of eligibility for program
  • Discuss foods that will be received from WIC
  • Learn nutrition & health information applicable for participant
  • Learn about other helpful services & resources in the community
  • Learn about how to use the WIC coupons
  • Make next appointment to pickup benefits and receive additional nutrition education

The initial WIC appointment can take from 1-2 hours. The other appointments during the certification period usually take 30 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on the individual, the next appointment may be in 1, 2 or 3 months.

How long is someone certified for the program?
Depending on their WIC category, participants are certified for a specific length of time. At the end of the certification period, participants can repeat the certification process to be re-certified. The general certification periods by WIC category are:

  • Pregnant women are certified up to 6 weeks past their estimated date of delivery
  • Breastfeeding women are certified for up to 1 year from date of delivery as long as they continue to breastfeed
  • Postpartum women are certified for 6 months from the date of delivery
  • Infants added prior to 6 months of age are certified up to their first birthday
  • Children and infants added after 6 months of age are certified for 6 months

WIC Breastfeeding

Research has shown that breast milk is the best food for the baby's first year of life. Breastfeeding provides many health, nutritional and economical benefits to mother and baby. Since a major goal of the Michigan WIC program is to improve the nutritional status of infants, MI WIC encourages participating mothers to choose breastfeeding in the following ways:

  • Mothers are provided with breastfeeding information and support
  • Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in Michigan WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers
  • Mothers who exclusively breastfeed receive a larger amount and variety of foods
  • Mothers can receive a pump and other breastfeeding items if needed to help support the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding

Length of WIC Participation

Michigan WIC is considered a short-term program. A participate "graduates" at the end of one or more of their certification periods. A certification period is the length of time a MI WIC participate is eligible to receive benefits. Depending on the persons condition, either pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, an infant or child, an eligible person usually receives benefits from 6 months to a year, at which time they are required to re-apply.

The WIC Waiting List

In some situations, WIC agencies may not have enough financial backing to serve everyone who qualifies for the Michigan WIC program or those who call to apply. At this point, the WIC agencies must keep a list that is referred to as the "waiting list". It contains all of the individuals who want to apply for the Michigan WIC program and are likely to be served. From there, the WIC agencies use a special system called a "Priority System". Based on conditions like most serious health conditions (anemia, underweight, pregnancy problems), this system will determine who will be served next to receive MI WIC benefits. There are 7 priorities used in this priority system, the details for each priority and how they are determined are listed below.

Priority 1
The following applicants with nutrition-related medical conditions such as anemia, underweight, overweight or pre-term birth:

  • Pregnant Women
  • Breastfeeding Women
  • Infants

Priority 2
Infants up to 6 months of age whose mothers participated in WIC or could have participated and had nutrition-related medical conditions.

Priority 3
Children with nutrition-related medical conditions.

Priority 4
The following applicants with dietary problems, for example a poor diet:

  • Infants
  • Pregnant Women
  • Breastfeeding Women

Priority 5
Children with dietary problems, for example a poor diet.

Priority 6
Postpartum (non-breastfeeding) women with nutrition related-medical conditions or dietary problems.

Priority 7
Current WIC participants who without providing the WIC supplemental foods could continue to have medical and/or dietary problems.

Please note, state agencies can decide to place homeless and migrant participants in Priorities 5 through 7. At the state agencies option, postpartum women may be placed in Priorities 3 through 5. Any priority can be subdivided into subcategories of risk, using factors such as income or age.

WIC Participants who are Moving

If you are receiving Michigan WIC benefits and are moving from one area or state to another, then you will be placed at the top of a waiting list when you move and are also served first when the WIC agency can serve more individuals. While moving, you can still continue to receive your benefits until your certification period expires as long as there is proof that you are receiving WIC benefits in another area or state. Before you move, you need to contact your local WIC clinic and let them know.

In most cases the staff will give you a special card, Verification of Certification Card (VOC), which will prove that you are receiving WIC benefits. After you do move, you will then need to call the WIC clinic in your new area to schedule an appointment. When attending your appointment, make sure to take the VOC card that was given to you to show proof that you were participating in the MI WIC program.

If you still have questions or issues about the program, then you can contact your local Michigan WIC program that manages these benefits and services.

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