Can You Get WIC and Food Stamps at the Same Time?

Food, nutritional education and health care are offered through federal assistance programs.
Food, nutritional education and health care are offered through federal assistance programs. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

WIC is a program that offers food and nutritional assistance to women, infants and children. The foods included are not considered to account for the entire diet of families receiving this supplemental assistance, so many states do not prohibit families from receiving additional welfare from food programs such as food stamps. The California Food Policy Advocates actually recommend using both programs, but other states forbid it.


WIC provides assistance to pregnant women and single parents of children 5 years old and under to pay for health care, nutritional education, nutritional supplements and other community services. This federal program benefits those earning 185 percent of the federal poverty scale or less. Each state dictates methods of providing assistance. California sends checks to WIC recipients for authorized vendors, while Vermont delivers food to recipients with gift cards for fruits and vegetables.

Food Stamps

The food stamp program actually distributes the credits for purchasing food on electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards with magnetic strips that work like debit cards and use a four digit PIN code. This federally funded assistance program is administered by state and local governments to individuals and families who qualify. Each family member must have a Social Security card, and there are limits on the amount of assets and income a qualifying family may have.

Cross Qualifying

Some states believe that the need for nutritional assistance is not met by either WIC or EBT assistance, since typically neither program provides enough food for the family to last for the duration of time these benefits are allocated to cover. California suggests using WIC and EBT together to meet the nutritional requirements of needy families. The same federal income and asset qualifications apply to both programs, so qualifying for one means automatically qualifying for the other.


The state of residence determines the amount of benefits and if both WIC and EBT are available to qualifiers. For example, Vermont does not allow WIC recipients to receive any additional food purchasing assistance. Federal program benefits are limited to United States citizens and qualified aliens who entered the country under specific refugee and foreign operations acts. Identification must be verified with a photo ID card, and income and assets must be confirmed along with the amount of household bills.

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