Applying For Maine WIC
Maine WIC (Women, Infants and Children) is handled by the Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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.
Before applying for the ME 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.
Maine WIC participants receive many benefits from this program. Participants learn about health and nutrition information that is important to their family. ME WIC offers breastfeeding support to nursing mothers. Participants also receive checks to purchase healthy foods. Lastly, if the Maine WIC program cannot answer your questions or you need more information about other services, they can connect you with additional community resources.
Maine WIC Eligibility
The Maine WIC program is open to working and non-working families living in Maine who meet the income guidelines, including migrants working in Maine. Applicants can be any of the following:
- Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or had a baby in the last six months
- Infants and children up to the age of five, including adopted and foster children
- Fathers may apply for their children
To be eligible on the basis of income, an applicant's income must fall at or below 185% of the US Poverty Income Guidelines. A person who receives MaineCare, SNAP, or TANF benefits automatically meet the income eligibility requirement. To view the current guidelines, Maine WIC Income Guidelines.
To start the application process for Maine WIC benefits, call your local WIC office and schedule an appointment. Or you can contact the Maine WIC department directly and request to join the ME WIC program.
Maine WIC Breastfeeding Support
Breast milk is the best food for a baby and the ME WIC program is committed to helping mothers be successful with breastfeeding. Most women have questions about breastfeeding. WIC can give you helpful information on the benefits of breastfeeding by discussing:
- Any questions and concerns you have about breastfeeding
- How to get your family and friends engaged in your decision to breastfeed
- How to talk to your doctor about your decision to breastfeed
- Community resources for breastfeeding support
- How to maintain breastfeeding when you will return to work or school
- WIC also provides loaner breast pumps to mothers who may need one
Maine WIC Food Benefits
WIC foods are provided to help meet the nutrition needs of participants. Foods include iron-fortified breakfast cereal, 100% juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried and canned beans/peas, canned fish, soy-based beverage, tofu, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, infant cereal, jarred infant fruits, vegetables and meats and infant formula as needed to meet the nutritional needs of Maine WIC participants. In the summer, vouchers are given for fresh fruits and vegetables from Maine farmers.
WIC participants receive checks or vouchers to purchase specific foods each month that are designed to supplement their diets with specific nutrients that benefit WIC's target population.
What do I do if my checks are lost or stolen?
Contact your local WIC office immediately.
Does it matter where I spend my WIC checks?
Many stores in Maine and some in New Hampshire accept Maine WIC checks. These stores must carry WIC approved foods. Find WIC Stores in your county.
Why does WIC need to weigh and measure my child?
Your child's height and weight tell them a lot about the child's health. WIC weighs and measures a child regularly. How your child grows over time can identify a concern before it becomes a problem.
Why does WIC need to do a blood test?
Since WIC is a health and nutrition program, they check iron levels in the blood. A low iron level can be an indication of anemia, which is considered a nutrition risk. One of the main requirements for the Maine WIC program.
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 Maine WIC program is to improve the nutritional status of infants, ME 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 Maine 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
Maine 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 ME 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 ME WIC benefits. There are 7 priorities used in this priority system, the details for each priority and how they are determined are listed below.
The following applicants with nutrition-related medical conditions such as anemia, underweight, overweight or pre-term birth:
- Pregnant Women
- Breastfeeding Women
Infants up to 6 months of age whose mothers participated in WIC or could have participated and had nutrition-related medical conditions.
Children with nutrition-related medical conditions.
The following applicants with dietary problems, for example a poor diet:
- Pregnant Women
- Breastfeeding Women
Children with dietary problems, for example a poor diet.
Postpartum (non-breastfeeding) women with nutrition related-medical conditions or dietary problems.
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 Maine 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 ME WIC program.
If you still have questions or issues about the program, then you can contact your local Maine WIC program that manages these benefits and services.