What is WIC?
WIC is a nutrition program that helps the whole family learn about eating well and staying healthy. WIC helps thousands of families in Knox County with good food, helpful advice, and referrals to community resources. WIC serves pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children under the age of five who qualify. The WIC Program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.
This website contains much of the information a family will need to participate. If you have any other questions, please call us at 865-215-5030.
More information about the WIC Program is available here.
Frequently Asked Questions
WIC is for women who are pregnant or had a baby in the last six months; breastfeeding women who had a baby in the last twelve months; infants; and children up to the age of five, including adopted and foster children. Fathers may apply for their children. Knox County WIC serves residents of Knox and the surrounding counties. You must meet income guidelines to qualify for WIC services. Check the income guidelines for your family to see if you qualify.
You can also use the WIC Prescreening Tool to see if you might be eligible for WIC.
WIC income guidelines are higher than most people think. For example, a family of four can earn about $44,000 per year and qualify for WIC. Check the income guidelines for your family to see if you qualify.
WIC income guidelines are automatically met if (1) you or anyone in your household receives SNAP (formerly called Food Stamps) benefits, or if (2) you are pregnant and enrolled in TennCare; or your child is currently enrolled in TennCare.
Documents to show at your first visit to WIC (certification) include proof of identity (for all applicants), proof of household income, and proof of Tennessee residency. Prenatal applicants must show proof of pregnancy. In addition, applicants must be present at certification. Call our office if you have questions due to unusual circumstances.
Periodically you will have to show proofs again. WIC staff will always inform you when you need to bring required paperwork to recertification visits. Review your paperwork ahead of time so you arrive prepared and can receive WIC benefits with no interruption.
Proof of identity options: bring just one item for each person applying for WIC
- Driver’s license
- Birth certificate
- Hospital birth certificate, ID bracelet, or crib card
- Photo ID
- Social Security card
- TennCare or Medical Insurance Card
- Registration in local/state/federal government programs
- Voter Registration Card
- VOC Card (if transferring from another WIC program)
- WIC Folder (for voucher pick-up if the folder has been signed)
- WIC ID (for certification if label is attached)
Proof of household income options: must include all income for the household
- Proof of SNAP/Food Stamps enrollment: current benefit statement, or show us your online SNAP account
- Proof of TennCare enrollment: we will access the TennCare database to determine your enrollment status
- Current (most recent) check stub: must show gross income; we can view this on your smartphone if needed
- Income statement from employer: when check stubs are not available or you receive pay in cash; statement must apply to current income, must be signed and dated by employer (within 30 days); we reserve the right to contact your employer to verify the information
- Government Program Award Letter (includes unemployment compensation)
- Investment statement: must show gross income
- Social Security or SSI benefits statement
- Veterans benefit statement
- Copy of Court Order
- Previous year tax return: may only be used if self-employed and no other source of income, must be the complete return including 1099’s (when applicable)
- Written letter of support from a third party with signature and current date: must indicate a dollar amount of monthly support, must contain enough information to accurately determine the household income status or describe why other documentation is not available. A letter of support from someone within the household is not acceptable. This is a last resort option and should be used only if absolutely no other information is available.
Proof of Tennessee residency options
- Rent receipt/mortgage statement: receipt should have name, address of leaseholder with renter’s current address
- Utility bill/receipt
- Official correspondence
- Written letter of support from a third party with signature and current date: a letter of support from someone within the household is not acceptable
- Addresses listed as PO boxes are not acceptable
Proof of pregnancy options
- Written confirmation of positive pregnancy test performed by any health professional
- Proof of pregnancy may be faxed to our office at 865-215-5064
- Ultrasound with your name pre-printed (not hand written)
- If you are visibly pregnant, we do not need written proof of pregnancy
WIC offers many benefits to families who qualify for services:
Each participant receives specific foods to help meet individual nutrition needs. At this time, these benefits are provided through paper checks that you spend at the grocery store. We are looking forward to the transition to EBT (electronic benefits) in 2018.
- Food lists for Tennessee WIC-eligible foods
All pregnant women will learn about breastfeeding and the support services that WIC has in place to help new moms meet their individual breastfeeding goals.
At least twice per year, participants get to talk one-on-one with a nutrition educator about the food they eat and how to incorporate healthy habits into their lifestyles. Nutrition education is also offered in a fun group setting where families learn from each other or with brief, online education that can be viewed from any device with an internet connection. The nutrition educator can explain these options in more detail.
Growth checks make sure our moms, babies, and children are growing well – not too fast or slow. A simple blood test checks iron status to make sure participants are eating enough important nutrients to stay healthy. We will measure participants in our office during the appointment, or participants may bring referral measures from their healthcare providers.
Referrals to additional services
WIC is well connected in the community and wants to make sure your family is too. From doctors and dentists to additional resources like food, car seats, and cribs, you can talk to us about your family’s needs. We will do our best to match you with a community resource that address your concerns.
A mother-to mother breastfeeding support group for moms (and moms-to-be) and their children. Mothers value sharing experience with other mothers to help overcome barriers and for positive support and encouragement when concerns arise. Breastfeeding support helps mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals.
WIC breastfeeding peer counselors have a dramatic impact on helping a mother reach her breastfeeding goals because they give new mothers what they need most, a trusted friend who has been there.
A breastfeeding peer counselor with the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and children (WIC) is a paraprofessional who:
- Has personal breastfeeding experience;
- Has been carefully selected by WIC and trained in basic breastfeeding techniques and counseling skills;
- Gives basic breastfeeding information and support to new mothers;
- Desires to help mothers achieve their own breastfeeding goals;
- Provides basic breastfeeding information and support for WIC mothers;
- Contacts mothers regularly during pregnancy, the early days of breastfeeding, and until the mother chooses to wean her baby.
- Refers mothers with concerns outside the peer counselor’s scope of practice to appropriate lactation experts or health care professionals.
Enhanced Food Benefits
Mothers who exclusively breastfeed receive more variety and larger quantities of foods on their WIC food checks, and infants who are exclusively breastfed receive larger quantities and more types of baby food at 6 months of age.
Trained StaffAll WIC staff complete USDA’s Grow and Glow training to achieve breastfeeding competencies for WIC clinics. WIC staff include many Certified Lactation Counselors and an IBCLC.
WIC Loaner Breast Pump ProgramBreastfeeding mothers may receive breast pumps and other aides to help support the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.
Community Breastfeeding Resources: Brochure that outlines the types of support that are available locally to breastfeeding mothers.
Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline: 1-855-423-6667
- WIC Works Breastfeeding Resources
- Strong Baby Knox
- TN.gov Breastfeeding
- WomensHealth.gov Breastfeeding
- CDC.gov Breastfeeding
- Healthy Children Breastfeeding
- La Leche League: Mother to Mother support
- LactMed: Drugs and Lactation Database
- Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding
- World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action
- UNICEF: Global Breastfeeding Advocacy
To schedule an appointment call 865-215-5016, for Spanish call 865-215-5418. For the hearing impaired (TDD) call 865-215-5001.
We value your time: when phone lines are busy, call 865-215-5016 or 865-215-5030 and leave a voicemail message, tell us who you are and the best number to reach you. We return calls every afternoon that we are open.
Or you can send an email. Send us your phone number and we’ll call you to schedule your appointment within the same or next business day.
There are a few types of WIC appointments, so let us try to explain each one individually.
- Mid Certification
- Nutrition follow-up (you might hear us refer to this as “therapeutic”)
- Bear in mind that a family may have individuals with various appointment types all on the same day. For example, Mom and baby might need to be certified when your older child has a follow-up visit. We make every effort to keep families scheduled together to make efficient use of your time. In this example, the family is not eligible for Quick WIC or Fast Pass because we need to see Mom and baby in our office, and we will talk about the older child during that visit.
Certification for the WIC Program happens annually for each participant in your family. This appointment type requires the most time. Let’s walk through it:
Welcome to clinic!
1) Sign in the names of each family member with an appointment at the front desk and have a seat. Please have your proofs of eligibility (see “What do I need to bring to my WIC appointment?” answer above for proofs of eligibility) ready and listen for your name to be called. The clerical staff will call you up and ask for your proofs. She will then ask you to sign a statement that your information is accurate and a privacy agreement. She will also ask if you are registered to vote and provide an opportunity for you to register. The USDA, which funds the WIC Program, requires us to ask these questions.
- If individuals within a family are on different certification schedules, you will need to show your proofs more than once per year. For example, if your son was certified in June and your daughter was certified in September, you will show proof each June and each September for your children to continue on the program.
2) Next, we will call you in to the lab:
- Children and women will be weighed and measured without shoes.
- Infants and toddlers need to be undressed and wearing only a dry diaper in order to be weighed and measured.
- We will measure iron by collecting a small drop of blood.
We can also accept measures from your child’s medical office. Measures must include weight, height or length, and hemoglobin or hematocrit. They need to be recent (dated within 60 days) and signed by the health care provider. A referral measures form is available from our office.
3) You will receive a questionnaire to complete. This will help guide your conversation with the nutrition educator.
4) The nutrition educator will invite you to her office and talk with you about any food questions you have and how to shop for WIC food in the grocery stores. The nutrition educator can also tell you about other resources in the community that may help meet your family’s needs.
Your conversation with the nutrition educator will wrap up once you’ve set a nutrition goal. Goals are a great way to focus on one thing you can improve – whether it’s more time with family meals or just helping your child try one new food, the educators can help you plan one small change to help keep you and your children healthy.
5) The last stop is to pick up your WIC food checks. You will need your ID again and you will sign for your checks. Once you have your checks, the clerk will schedule your return appointment and your visit is complete!
The mid-certification visit is approximately 6 months after certification. Your visit will be similar to the certification visit except we do not need to see your proof of eligibility. We do need to see how much your child has grown, so you will visit the lab. You are also welcome to bring referral measures to this visit.
You don’t need to complete the questionnaire again, but you will have a conversation with the nutrition educator. At this visit she will ask you about the goal you set at the certification visit and you can talk about your progress. We are also happy to address any other questions you have about food, the WIC program, or your child’s eating behavior.
The follow up appointments occur around the three month point between the certification and mid-certification. WIC appointments are usually made every three months, so every other appointment will be a follow-up visit. For this visit, you don’t need to bring proofs or measures. We just want to check in with you and see how you’re doing.
To make this appointment even easier, we offer group education in Quick WIC or online education with Fast Pass. Both of these options should be discussed with your nutrition educator.
- Quick WIC: Quick WIC is group nutrition education provided to eligible WIC clients. In Knox County, Quick WIC is offered several times a day, every day. We have separate groups focused on specific ages: infants, children, prenatal women, and breastfeeding moms. Quick WIC is available in English and Spanish. The groups meet in our demonstration kitchen on the second floor of the main facility of the Knox County Health Department. Quick WIC is an excellent way for our families to share their experiences and learn alongside other families who are starting on their journeys of raising young children. Many of our groups also get to sample a recipe that utilizes WIC foods. Quick WIC is a relaxed and efficient setting to learn from other families and receive your vouchers, all in about an hour. Children and infants are welcome to attend, but are not required to be present.
Fast Pass: Need a more flexible option for nutrition education? Go online! Tennessee offers online WIC learning at this website. There are several topics to choose from and you only need to complete one for the whole family. Follow the instructions given by WIC staff for creating your wichealth.org account. Complete the education anywhere you have access to the internet. We even have a computer kiosk in the hall outside the WIC office.
When you return to the WIC office, sign in at the front desk like you do for all of your WIC appointments. Tell the clerk you completed Fast Pass. She will go online to confirm you completed your education and give your information to the voucher clerks who will print your next set of vouchers. Easy!
Quick WIC is group nutrition education provided to eligible WIC clients. In Knox County, Quick WIC is offered several times a day, every day. We have separate groups focused on specific ages: infants, children, prenatal women, and breastfeeding moms. Quick WIC is available in English and Spanish. The groups meet in our demonstration kitchen on the second floor of the main facility of the Knox County Health Department. Quick WIC is an excellent way for our families to share their experiences and learn alongside other families who are starting on their journeys of raising young children. Many of our groups also get to sample a recipe that utilizes WIC foods. Quick WIC is a relaxed and efficient setting to learn from other families and receive your vouchers, all in about an hour. Children and infants are welcome to attend, but are not required to be present.
Online nutrition education for Tennessee WIC is at http://www.wichealth.org
Tennessee WIC has a contract with Abbott Nutrition to provide Similac formulas for our participants. If mom is not providing breastmilk, milk-based formula is the recommended food for infants under one year of age.
We can provide Similac Advance (milk-based) or Similac Isomil (soy-based) formula without a doctor’s note if no other product has been requested. We can also provide Similac Sensitive, Similac Total Comfort, or Similac for Spit-Up with a simple request form.
In order to provide any other formula, we need a therapeutic product request form. Your health care provider can fax it to our office (865-215-5064) or you may bring it to your next appointment. The requested product must be listed on the Tennessee WIC formulary and its use must meet guidelines set by the USDA and the state of Tennessee in order for us to provide it. WIC dietitians evaluate the requests to ensure they meet program guidelines. If you or your doctor have any other questions, please see the health care provider section of the Tennessee WIC website or contact our Nutrition Director at 865-215-5052.
WIC program services in Knox County are available at the main Knox County Health Department, located at 140 Dameron Avenue, Knoxville. Appointments are preferred but walk-ins are served as time allows.
WIC is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We are also open until 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month to offer later appointments to customers who work or go to school. We open at 10:30 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month to allow for staff training. WIC is closed on all Knox County government holidays.
WIC foods are purchased at grocery stores, large and small, that display signs saying, “Authorized WIC Vendor – Tennessee WIC”. Your WIC checks can be spent only at the approved stores. Click here for a list of authorized vendors in Knox County.
These steps describe what to do when shopping with WIC checks.
1. Before You Shop
- Find a store that accepts WIC checks
- If you received checks for more than one month:
- Make sure the date you use a check is within the month stated on the check.
- Keep your other checks in a safe place.
- Do not sign any of the WIC checks before using them at the store. Sign each check only after the cashier has written the price of the WIC foods on it.
2. Bring with You to the Store
- Your WIC ID Folder (the cashier should check that your signature matches a signature on the front of your WIC ID folder).
- The TN WIC Food List (Infant: English/Spanish) (Women & Children: English/Spanish)
3. While You Shop
- Using the WIC Food List, choose only WIC-allowed foods that are printed on your check.
- Double check to make sure the foods you choose are the right package sizes.
4. At the Cash Register
- Separate your WIC foods from any other grocery items you may be purchasing at the same time.
- If you are using more than one check, separate your WIC foods by check.
- If using your Fruit & Vegetable check, you may group your fruits and vegetables together.
- If the total goes over the value of the fruit & vegetable check, you pay the difference.
- If the total is less than the value of the fruit & vegetable check, you will not receive change.
- Tell the cashier you will be using WIC checks.
- Show the cashier your WIC ID folder.
- Make sure the cashier fills in the correct price on each check.
- Sign each check in front of the cashier.
- Be sure to obtain a receipt from the cashier.
- 865-215-5030 (phone)
- Leave a message for a return call; our staff returns calls every afternoon for messages that are left at this number
- WIC administrative staff:
- 865-215-5048: WIC Director
- 865-215-5052: Nutrition Director
- 865-215-5060: Breastfeeding Coordinator
- 865-215-5050: Vendor Coordinator
- 865-215-5064 (fax)
To contact the Tennessee WIC State office in Nashville by phone, call 1-800-DIAL WIC (1-800-342-5942)