The WIC program helps safeguard the health of pregnant/nursing women and their young children in low socioeconomic circumstances by providing them with access to free, nutritious food. While WIC benefits can be used in most grocery stores, for some women in this program, a CVS store may be a convenient alternative, particularly when a last-minute trip for baby formula or pantry staples is in order. Does CVS take WIC? Read on to find out…
What is WIC?
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a U.S. government program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The WIC program, which is administered in all 50 states, provides access to free food to low-income women who are pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding, as well as to infants and young children to the age of five.
You may be eligible for WIC if you meet specific income requirements and are:
- Currently pregnant, or you’ve recently given birth and are within six months of the birth of your child.
- Breastfeeding an infant up to his or her first birthday.
- Feeding an infant (not breastfeeding) up to six months after the birth of your child.
- Caring for an infant up to the age of his or her first birthday.
Although the WIC program is a federal one, WIC benefits are distributed at the state level. Once you are approved for the program, you’ll gain access to its vast network of state and local agencies, which are responsible for approving retailers for partnership.
Does CVS Accept WIC?
CVS is one of 47,000 authorized WIC retailers. However, because WIC benefits are issued at the state level, you may live in a state that does not include CVS among its list of WIC-approved retailers.
While we were unable to locate a state that doesn’t include CVS among its list of WIC-approved retailers, it is best to confirm if CVS is an approved retailer.
What Can I Buy at CVS with My WIC Benefits?
Upon being approved for the WIC program, your local WIC agency will provide you with a list of acceptable food items that can be purchased at CVS, or any other approved retailer.
CVS carries a selection of baby and infant foods that meet program requirements:
- Baby food containing fruits, meats, and vegetables
- Infant cereals
- Infant WIC formulas
Many CVS locations also carry the following foods that meet program requirements:
- Breakfast cereals (approved brands only)
- Canned beans
- Canned fish (light tuna, pink salmon, sardines; no Albacore tuna, no pouch containers or fish with added ingredients)
- Cheese (pasteurized natural slices or block only; no blended flavors, cheese food, cheese product, imported, organic, or string cheese)
- Juice (must be 100% juice with no added sugar)
- Milk (regular, low-fat, non-fat, or lactose-free; no chocolate milk)
- Peanut butter
How Do I Use My WIC Benefits at CVS?
Depending on the state you live in, you’ll be given a set of WIC checks or an EBT card to pay for groceries at CVS. Checks were the preferred method until recently, when some states switched to WIC EBT cards. Your state may be in the process of switching over to an EBT system; if so, you’ll be informed about it by your local WIC agency.
WIC EBT cards are preloaded with your account information, and money is automatically sent to your account and transferred from your account via electronic transfer. You can choose a private PIN (personal identification number) for your account, and use it when you want to know how much money is in your account. Use your WIC EBT card at the checkout counter like a credit or debit card. Similar to a debit card, the amount spent is automatically deducted from the total.
What Other Stores Similar to CVS Accept WIC?
A number of other major pharmacies, including Rite Aid and Walgreens, are approved WIC vendors in most states. Want to know about the WIC policy for similar stores? We suggest you see our articles about Walgreens and Rite Aid.
However, because WIC is locally administered by individual state agencies, it is best to check with your local WIC administrator to find out if your WIC benefits can be used at other pharmacies.
Besides pharmacies, there are many other WIC approved stores near you. You can also look at this comprehensive list of grocery stores that accept WIC, along with the states you can find these stores in.
The federal WIC program helps safeguard the health of low-income women and children by giving them access to free, healthy foods. CVS is an approved retailer for many state WIC programs, but acceptance varies by location. Once approved for WIC benefits, you can make purchases of WIC-approved foods using your WIC EBT card or WIC checks.