Applying For Iowa WIC

Iowa WIC (Women, Infants and Children) is handled by the Iowa Department of Public Health. They are responsible for determing the eligibility requirements, application process and are in charge of providing the benefits and services to WIC participants. The Iowa 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 Iowa 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 IA 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 Iowa WIC program provides:

Health services
These services include nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, eWIC cards to buy nutritious foods, immunization screening and referrals, and health and social services referrals.

WIC nurses and dietitians meet with you to assess your diet and health history, provide nutrition counseling, and determine what foods are right for you and where you should shop.

Breastfeeding is very important for growing babies. If a mom is not able to breastfeed then iron-fortified formula is provided for the baby. When your baby is old enough, baby foods and plain cereal will be available.

Children 1-5 years old
These children can receive milk, juice, cereal, eggs, peanut butter or dried beans, whole wheat bread, and fruits and vegetables.

Breastfeeding moms
Moms who feed their babies by breastfeeding can receive milk, cheese, juice, cereal, eggs, peanut butter and/or dried beans, tuna or salmon, whole wheat bread, and fruits and vegetables.

WIC promotes and supports breastfeeding.

Iowa WIC Qualifications

To qualify for Iowa WIC you must:

If you believe you qualify for Iowa WIC benefits, then call your local WIC agency to schedule an appointment to get the application process started. Or, if you live in Iowa you can call 800-532-1579. If you live outside of Iowa, then call the state office at 515-282-6650.

Iowa WIC Appointment

You will need to bring the following information with you to your appointment:

  • Proof of Iowa Address
  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of Income

Appealing Iowa WIC Decision

You have the right to a hearing if you wish to appeal a disqualification or decision that you do not qualify for Iowa WIC benefits. Your appeal rights are explained below:

  • Send a written request for a hearing to your local WIC agency within 90 days of receiving this notice.
    The hearing officer will schedule a hearing within 21 days of receiving your request. You will receive notice of the time, place and date at least 10 days before the hearing
  • Before and during the hearing, you have the right to read all of the public documents on file about the decision that is under appeal
  • During the hearing you may speak for yourself or be assisted by a relative, friend, other person, or lawyer at your expense; bring witnesses; question or refute any testimony or evidence; question any adverse witnesses; and provide evidence to establish facts and circumstances related to your case
  • The local hearing officer will issue a written decision within 45 days of your request for the hearing unless a longer time period is agreed upon by both parties
  • Either party may appeal the written decision to the Division Director, Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention, Iowa Department of Public Health. This appeal must be made within 15 days of the mailing date of the decision made by the local hearing officer. The procedures listed above must be followed for a second appeal about the decision

The State of Iowa WIC program welcomes fathers and stepfathers to take active roles when participating in the IA WIC program. WIC knows the importance of your roles in your partner's and children's lives and encourages you to attend your child's or partner's appointments.

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 Iowa WIC program is to improve the nutritional status of infants, IA 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 Iowa 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

Iowa 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 IA 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 Iowa 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 Iowa 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 IA 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 Iowa 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 IA WIC program.

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

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