Applying For Missouri WIC

Missouri WIC (Women, Infants and Children) is handled by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior 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 Missouri 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 Missouri 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 MO 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.

Missouri WIC benefits provide breastfeeding support, nutrition education, referrals to appropriate health agencies, and nutritious foods for eligible applicants.

Missouri WIC Eligibility

The MO WIC program serves pregnant women, non-breastfeeding postpartum women (up to 6 months after delivery or termination of the pregnancy), breastfeeding women (up to 1 year after delivery as long as they are breastfeeding the baby), infants from birth up to 1 year of age, and children up to their 5th birthday.

All applicants must meet the Missouri WIC Income Guidelines. Individuals who meet income and category guidelines will be assessed for nutritional risk factors during the certification process. Participant eligibility is based on three things, category, income, and nutritional risk, the details are listed below.

Categories Requirement
Participant must fit into one of these categories:

  • Pregnant women
  • Postpartum breastfeeding women up to 1 year after delivery while nursing
  • Postpartum non-breastfeeding women up to 6 months after delivery or termination of the pregnancy
  • Infants from birth up to one year of age
  • Children from one year of age up to their 5th birthday

Income Requirement
Calculated on the family income at 185% or less of federal poverty level. Check the Missouri WIC Income Guidelines.

Nutritional Risk Requirement
WIC documents and prioritizes the nutritional health risks of all Missouri WIC participants. This assessment helps to guarantee that the program benefits those who need it most and that the help given is appropriate for the participants' nutritional health.

Below is a list of potential risks for each potential MO WIC applicant:

Risks For Women
Anthropometric (Measurement) Risks:

  • Low Maternal Weight Gain
  • Maternal Weight Loss During Pregnancy
  • Pre-pregnancy/Postpartum Underweight
  • Pre-pregnancy/Postpartum Overweight
  • High Maternal Weight Gain

Clinical, Health, or Medical Risks:

  • Pregnancy-Induced Conditions
  • Pregnancy at a Young Age
  • History of Low Birthweight
  • History of Spontaneous Abortion (Miscarriage)
  • History of Fetal Loss (Stillbirth)
  • History of Neonatal Loss (Death of Baby After Birth)
  • History of Birth with Nutrition- Related Congenital or Birth Defect
  • Closely Spaced Pregnancies
  • High Parity (Pregnant Many Times) and Young Age
  • Multi-fetal Gestation (Twins, Triplets, Etc.)
  • Pregnant Woman Currently Breastfeeding
  • Nutrition-Related Risks or Conditions
  • Dental Problems

Biochemical Risks:

  • Low hemoglobin/Low Hematocrit
  • Elevated Blood Lead Levels

Dietary Risks:

  • Failure to Meet Dietary Guidelines
  • Inappropriate Nutrition Practices for Women

Other Risks:

  • Possibility of Regression
  • Transfer of Certification
  • Breastfeeding Complications
  • Homelessness or Migrancy
  • Presumptive Eligibility for Pregnant Woman
  • Breastfeeding Mother of Infant at Nutritional Risk

Risks For Infants and Children
Anthropometric (Measurement) Risks:

  • Inadequate Growth
  • Low Birth Weight
  • Premature
  • Small for Gestational Age
  • Low Head Circumference
  • Underweight or at-risk of Becoming Underweight Infants and Children
  • Overweight Children
  • At-risk of Becoming Overweight Infants and Children
  • Short Stature or At Risk of Short Stature
  • Failure to Thrive

Clinical, Health, or Medical Risks:

  • Nutrition-Related Risks or Conditions
  • Dental Problems

Biochemical Risks:

  • Low hemoglobin/Low Hematocrit
  • Elevated Blood Lead Levels

Dietary Risks:

  • Failure to Meet Dietary Guidelines
  • Inappropriate Nutrition Practices for Infants
  • Inappropriate Nutrition Practices for Children
  • Dietary Risk Associated with Complementary Feeding Practices

Other Risks:

  • Possibility of Regression
  • Transfer of Certification
  • Breastfeeding Complications
  • Homelessness or Migrancy
  • Infant up to 6 months of age of a woman participating in WIC or of a woman who would have been eligible during pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding Infant of a Woman at Nutritional Risk
  • Primary Caregiver with Limited Ability to Make Feeding Decisions and/or Prepare Food

Missouri WIC Application Process

To start the application process for Missouri WIC, you need to contact your local WIC agency and schedule an appointment. If you need additional help finding a WIC agency, please call 800-835-5465.

Missouri eWIC System

Missouri is in the process of converting their current WIC system to the new eWIC system. It will replace paper checks and vouchers with a WIC EBT (Electronic benefit transfer) Card. When you are purchasing WIC approved foods at a local grocery store, you would hand your Missouri WIC EBT card to the cashier when checking it. They will then swipe your card like a credit or debit card and it will deduct the amount from your WIC balance.

Also, instead of having to go down to your local WIC clinic each month to get your paper checks or vouchers, your MO WIC EBT card, also called a smart card, will automatically be refilled electronically each month. They plan to fully role out the Missouri eWIC system by 2019.

Does WIC offer breast pumps?
All local WIC providers offer a variety of breast pumps, which are provided to post partum moms after the local WIC provider has completed an assessment to determine which breast pump is appropriate for her.

Manual breast pumps are given to moms who are occasionally separated from their infant

Multi-user hospital grade pumps are loaned to moms who are have premature or hospitalized infants, mothers of multiple infants, issues with low milk supply or temporary feeding problems and moms going back to work. There may be a minimal charge for the pumping kit and a deposit may be charged that is returned once the participant brings the pump back to the agency

Many local WIC providers also give single-user personal double electric breast pumps to moms who are separated from their infants for 32 hours per week for work or school, exclusively breastfeeding at 4 weeks post partum and are having no breastfeeding difficulties. This pump is given to moms who meet this criteria at no charge

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 Missouri WIC program is to improve the nutritional status of infants, MO 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 Missouri 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

Missouri 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 MO 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 Missouri 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 Missouri 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 MO 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 Missouri 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 MO WIC program.

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

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