In 1971, former Vice President and then-Senator Hubert H. Humphrey sponsored a piece of legislation known as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Originally launched as a limited two-year pilot program, it has since expanded to a large, nationwide operation, known today as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. There are several requirements to receive the service, but those who qualify can use the program to gain nutritional help for pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five.
Many grocery stores accept WIC. Is Dollar Tree — which does sell some groceries — one of them?
The answer is no. Dollar Tree does not currently participate in the WIC program. You can’t use your WIC benefits to purchase items at Dollar Tree.
Part of the reason may have to do with what foods are WIC-approved and how that compares to the kinds of foods Dollar Tree sells. WIC maintains detailed requirements for what foods can be purchased under the program, with an emphasis on foods that are fresh and less processed. Cheese blocks are allowed, for example, but cheese spreads are not. Likewise, juice is allowed but it must be 100% juice.
Not everything in Dollar Tree is out of line with what WIC might require. DT sells juice, for example, and simple cereals are also readily available. But most of what we’ve found on Dollar Tree shelves are processed foods, like easy-to-make frozen foods. DT doesn’t sell fresh produce or many other products that might be marketed as health food.
So WIC at Dollar Tree is out.
However, Dollar Tree does take other forms of payment. The extreme discounter takes Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), for example, or what is popularly called food stamps. And of course you can always pay for items at Dollar Tree with cash, a credit card, or a debit card.
What Grocers Do Take WIC?
Dollar Tree is not alone in its decision not to take WIC. Dollar General, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Dollar Tree’s subsidiary Family Dollar also do not participate.
However, if you’re looking for a place to use WIC benefits, there are a number of supermarket chains and independent grocers that accept WIC. Those grocers include:
- Ruler Foods
- Save A Lot
- Many large inventory regional grocery chains
- Certain pharmacies (formula only)
Also, because WIC is a federal program administered by the states, many states have their own lookup tool that you can use to find WIC stores in those states.
One final word of caution — there are non-government websites out there that claim to be WIC lookup tools. However, I found that some of those sites did not match up with the listings provided by states. For example, some of those tools included gas stations, convenience stores, and non-WIC grocers. A quick search on the state directories showed those lists were wrong. If in doubt, contact the WIC office in your area to ask.