WIC vs. SNAP: What Are the Differences?

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WIC and SNAP

You want to provide the best food for your family. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) are two of the main programs that help more than half a million Massachusetts households get access to quality, healthy foods. There are significant differences between SNAP (formerly called food stamps) and WIC, and Project Bread is here to lay them out.

Three children eating pasta
Three children eating pasta with their hands.

WHO CAN APPLY FOR SNAP AND FOR WIC?

Any Massachusetts resident, from children to seniors, can potentially qualify for SNAP benefits. The process is easy: anyone can complete an application and provide documentation to see if they qualify for SNAP. There are a handful of factors used to determine eligibility for SNAP, but the main two are income and household size.

WIC is available to expectant mothers and families with children: pregnant or postpartum women, breastfeeding women, and children up to age five and their caregivers can all potentially qualify, again, depending on household size and income. All foster children under five automatically qualify for WIC.

WIC allows you to choose a list of healthy groceries to purchase at select grocers.


Some examples of groceries that you can include on your list are baby food, baby formula, eggs, and milk.

Each benefit recharges on a monthly basis. SNAP benefits roll over into the next month, but WIC benefits don’t, so be sure to use your WIC within a month.

WHAT ELSE CAN I USE SNAP/WIC FOR?

SNAP and WIC also offer access to different programs in addition to food benefits.

SNAP’s Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) gives you a refund on your EBT card of up to $80 when you purchase farm-fresh local produce from qualified vendors, such as participating farm stands and farmers’ markets.

Children in SNAP-eligible households are also automatically eligible to receive free school meals.

SNAP offers a Card to Culture program, where you are also eligible for discounts at museums and other cultural organizations.

Finally, people on SNAP can potentially qualify for discounts with their utilities companies, including heat and electricity.

Families who use WIC can get referrals to healthcare and also breastfeeding support. WIC members can also be eligible for discounts on heating costs and internet access. And if you’re looking for fun things to do with your kid, your WIC card offers additional discounts at more than 100 museums and other cultural organizations, such as the Boston Children’s Museum and the New England Aquarium.

CAN I REALLY GET WIC AND SNAP BENEFITS AT THE SAME TIME?

Absolutely! If you meet the criteria for both, you can get both cards! In fact, expectant moms and caregivers of young children who receive SNAP will also qualify for WIC.

Just remember, when you’re grocery shopping, swipe your WIC card first, and then your SNAP card next.


WHERE CAN I USE SNAP/WIC?

You can use the SNAP Retailer Locator to find where you can use your EBT card.

Go to this link if you’re interested in vendors who also participate in SNAP’s HIP program.

The list of WIC-eligible grocers are on the WIC website.

HOW DO I APPLY FOR SNAP?

You can call us at Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline: 1-800-645-8333. Always free and confidential, our expert counselors are happy to determine if you are eligible for SNAP. If you choose to have our counselors assist you with your application, they will also keep in touch with you through the application process to provide information and assistance if needed.

You can apply for SNAP on the Department of Transitional Assistance website.

AND HOW CAN I APPLY FOR WIC?

You can find your local WIC office and contact them on the WIC website. Also, you can call the WIC hotline for general information at (800) 942-1007.

AND ONE MORE REMINDER:

SNAP and WIC are programs funded by your tax dollars, and they are available to everyone who qualifies for the programs. Your participation does not take away funds from anyone else!  Project Bread is a resource for you to help you utilize and access the benefits that you’re eligible for and receive the food assistance you may need. Don’t hesitate to call or live chat our counselors online (using the chat below) and learn more.

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