WIC and the Military Family: More than Nutrition

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Like many families across America, military families use WIC, also known as The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. WIC is a welcomed resource for military families to support nutrition, get healthy food options on the table, add some breathing room to the grocery budget, and build a community of support to lean on.

20 Years of WIC

For active-duty military spouse and nursing mother Lorene Staggs, WIC has been a go-to resource for 20 years, benefiting her five children, now aged 21 years old to 7 months old.

“It is incredibly beneficial and a much-appreciated supplement to our food budget for our family,” Lorene shared. “WIC provides us with the means to provide healthy snacks, especially through the fruits and vegetable allowance.”

WIC is designed for pregnant and nursing mothers and children ages 0-5. Lorene has seen the WIC program improve from the paper vouchers used 20 years ago to the more efficient electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards that make shopping much easier. She has also felt the safety net of WIC assistance, as the program has given her the ability to purchase specialized products for her children’s individual nutritional needs.

“Having one child with a lactose intolerance, I fear none of them would get the dairy servings they require if we had to purchase multiple expensive specialty milks on our own.”

Reaching Military Families Closer Than Ever

WIC offices can often be found on military installations and in the communities surrounding them, making it easier for military families to participate. Unlike other nutritional programs, like SNAP, WIC does not include military housing benefits (BAH) in its eligibility calculations, meaning many military families will qualify for the program.

“The proximity to our homes is a welcome comfort, especially in the event of deployments,” Lorene said. “Having the employees familiar with the lifestyle of the military family as well as the resources specific to us is remarkably convenient.”

Along with the benefits of purchasing healthy food options, WIC also provides supportive community groups. Along with individualized support, there are opportunities to connect with other families with children at the same developmental stages, facing similar nutrition education challenges, and share experiences and resources.

This sense of community can be particularly valuable for military families who live far from their extended family and support networks, helping them thrive despite frequent relocations, deployments, and long bouts of separation for military missions.

 On a Mission to Support Military Families

At NMFA, we have advocated for benefits such as SNAP and WIC to become much more accessible for families. From frequent PCS moves and financial challenges that can stem from the unique military life, we know these safety net programs are vital to healthy food choices and positive mental well-being.

While we are pleased to see improvements to the WIC Program and the sense of community it brings, we know these needs will only continue to be met with adequate funding. In the upcoming year, we are watching Congress to ensure they continue to fund this essential program and hear the voices of military families who rely on it.

Have a story about WIC and your military family? Share with us below!

By: Angela Sablan Tenorio, Content Manager