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The Difference Between Snap and WIC, and How to Apply

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are both federally funded health and nutrition programs. Both programs assist low-income families and their children, but they are separate entities.

SNAP recipients receive a monthly preloaded EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card, which is used to purchase food for themselves or their families.

When you see the EBT option at the grocery store, it means that the store participates in the SNAP benefits program.

For this purpose, a predetermined amount is loaded onto your debit card based on your overall household income.

WIC, on the other hand, does not provide a discretionary amount to purchase food. WIC recipients are given a specific card, which is then swiped like a debit or credit card to purchase items from this list only.

Foods are pre-determined, which means they are chosen based on nutritional values and USDA standards.

Food items include, but are not limited to, infant cereal and other baby foods, fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried and canned beans, canned fish, and tofu.


A WIC EBT card is an electronic system that replaces paper vouchers with a card for food benefit issuance and redemption at authorized WIC grocery stores.

This means that, while WIC cards are similar to EBT cards, they cannot be used everywhere.

EBT cards can be used anywhere that accepts debit or credit cards as payment. WIC EBT cards, on the other hand, cannot be used.

In addition to food, the WIC program offers nutritional education, breastfeeding support, and referrals.

This can include being pregnant, breastfeeding, or being a postpartum woman responsible for an infant or child.

If a business accepts debit or credit cards as a form of payment, then it will also accept EBT cards. On the other hand, you are not permitted to use WIC EBT cards.

Eligibility Requirements for SNAP and WIC

To receive SNAP benefits, you must apply in the state where you currently reside — and meet certain bank balance limits.

Households with elderly or disabled members may be allowed to have a higher bank balance limit.

For the WIC program, you must be:




Have a child under the age of five.

How to Apply for SNAP or WIC

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The SNAP and WIC programs are administered by individual states. Each state has its own application process, with some offering online applications and others requiring you to apply in person or by regular mail.

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To apply for SNAP, use the state locator map to locate your state’s Food and Nutrition Service office, then contact your state agency.

To apply for WIC, use the WIC Directory to locate the contact information or website for your state’s program.

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