Learn the Difference Between SNAP and WIC Programs

Published 5:30 am Sunday, October 16, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are federally funded health and nutrition programs. SNAP and WIC help low-income families and their children.

Are SNAP and WIC the same program?

SNAP and WIC are not the same program. SNAP gives a monthly dollar amount on a preloaded Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to buy food for you or your family. A pre-determined amount will be loaded onto your EBT card based on your household income. Learn more about EBT cards on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website.

WIC does not provide a dollar amount to buy food items. Through WIC, you can get nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals, and nutritious foods based on your situation (pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum woman, infant or child). WIC foods are chosen based on nutritional value and USDA standards. WIC recipients will be given a WIC card. To use your benefit, swipe your WIC card the same way you would with a debit or credit card. Learn more about WIC cards on USDA’s website.

If your household is eligible for SNAP and WIC, you should be able to receive benefits from both programs at the same time.

What are the eligibility requirements for SNAP and WIC?

For SNAP, you need to apply in the state you currently live in and meet certain bank balance limits. A household with an elderly or disabled household member may have a higher bank balance limit.

Visit SNAP’s eligibility page to read more about eligibility requirements.

For WIC, you need to apply in the state you currently live and be one of the following:

  • Pregnant
  • Breastfeeding
  • Postpartum, or
  • Have a child under five

If you or your family members receive other benefits, such as Medicaid or TANF, you may automatically meet the income eligibility requirement.

Visit the WIC Income Eligibility Requirements page for more information.

How do I apply?

Applications for SNAP and WIC are managed by states. Each state has a different application. Some states offer online applications and others require you to apply in person or by mail.

To apply for SNAP, find your state on the Food and Nutrition Service’s state locator map and contact your state agency.

To apply for WIC, find your state’s program contact or website from the WIC Directory.

Visit our Food and Nutrition page and filter by state or category to find related benefits. Visit our News page for articles about nutrition and food benefits. Take the Benefit Finder questionnaire to find more government benefits you may be eligible for.