The beloved grocery chain H-E-B is a Texas institution. Given the franchise’s popularity and omnipresence in the Lone Star State, it’s not surprising that shoppers of all income levels look to them to feed their families. But does H-E-B accept WIC, the government assistance program for qualifying mothers and small children?
H-E-B accepts WIC. The recipients of the WIC program are accepted at the H-E-B stores. WIC can also be used online for curbside pick and delivery orders.
In this article, I will discuss in more detail how to use WIC at HEB and everything else you need to know about WIC in general — what it is, who qualifies for it, and the services it offers. Let’s get started!
How To Use WIC at HEB
WIC follows specific guidelines (which we’ll discuss in more detail later) and covers certain foods and infant formulas. WIC participants should prepare for their shopping trip in advance by familiarizing themselves with program-approved foods, brands, and quantities.
If you’re using WIC at HEB, you can get the most from your benefit as follows:
- Use the WIC shopping guide to see all approved foods.
- Look for pink WIC stickers — usually on milk, juice, bread, cheese, tortillas, dried beans, and whole grains.
- Refer to the WIC Infant Formula Guide.
- Let the cashier know you’re using a WIC card at checkout. The clerk will tell you how to proceed with the transaction.
Careful shopping is essential, as WIC foods cannot be returned or resold. Remember to keep your receipt, as it details any remaining WIC benefit.
Brand Specific WIC Foods
Certain types of food need to be specific brands for WIC to approve the purchase. These foods include:
- Breakfast cereal
- Baby food
- Canned beans
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Soy milk
WIC doesn’t regulate the brands for foods like peanut butter and eggs, which can be selected at the shopper’s discretion.
What Is WIC?
WIC stands for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. As the name implies, it is a relief program designed to aid low-income mothers and children. It is managed by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.
WIC works with authorized retailers to provide families with the funds to purchase healthy foods.
The U.S. government launched WIC in 1974. To date, 53 percent of babies born in America are eligible for WIC benefits. The program serves women, children up to five years old, and infants.
WIC’s impact is profound. Mothers enrolled in WIC have healthier babies and lower infant mortality rates. WIC-nurtured children display greater mental development by the age of two than children without the benefit, as well as manifesting superior reading skills later in life.
WIC offers a variety of benefits to mothers and children beyond certain free and nutritious foods. It aims to provide families with the knowledge necessary to create a healthy environment, even beyond the point when the children “age out” of their benefits eligibility. Also, mothers have access to nutrition education services and counseling from WIC clinics.
Additionally, WIC provides referrals to health, welfare, and social services. The service offers breastfeeding education and support for new mothers.
WIC services a great deal of the population, but certain criteria must be met to be eligible for its benefits. The WIC program in each state is unique. For one, prospective beneficiaries must be able to provide evidence of residency for the state where they apply.
WIC also requires members to meet the income guidelines and for a medical professional to declare them at nutritional risk.
WIC eligible participants who already receive Medicaid or benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) are automatically enrolled in WIC.
WIC is open to women, infants, and children, within defined guidelines. Women eligible for WIC are:
- Pregnant women
- Post-partum: Mothers receive WIC benefits up to six months after the birth of the child or at the end of the pregnancy.
- Breast-feeding: Breast-feeding mothers are eligible for WIC up to the child’s first birthday.
Infants are eligible for WIC up to their first birthday, and children receive the service until their fifth birthday.
WIC Income Guidelines
WIC’s purpose is to provide nutrition to families who can’t afford it on their own. Eligibility for the program hinges on the beneficiaries’ income falling between 100 and 185 percent of the U.S. poverty income guidelines. Note that each state has unique requirements, and applicants need to ensure they are following the guidelines for their state of residence.
Nutritional Risks Covered by WIC
WIC is a nutrition program designed to supplement a family’s diet with healthy food. The program aims to assist vulnerable communities, who have particular dietary needs as well as lower income.
WIC recognizes two varieties of nutritional risk. They are:
- Medically-based risk. Medically-based risk receives the highest priority and must be diagnosed by a healthcare professional (i.e., a doctor, nurse, or nutritionist). Assessments are free at WIC clinics. Medically based risks include anemia, being underweight, maternal age, a history of complicated pregnancies, and poor pregnancy outcomes.
- Diet-based risk. Diet-based risks are poor eating habits and patterns.
Applying for WIC
Potential WIC participants must apply via their state of residence. The process is simple:
- Reach out to your state or local agency to set up an appointment.
- Appointments are made via The Department of Agriculture’s website or toll-free number
- Coordinators tell you the nearest WIC location and the necessary documentation for your appointment.
WIC applications are available at the following:
- County health departments
- Mobile clinics
- Community centers
- Migrant health centers
- American Indian health services facilities
WIC benefits are usable at the many H-E-B stores spread across Texas. Know your eligibility before applying for WIC, and if you receive the benefit, understand the guidelines and restrictions in place for the nutritional supplement program.