Kewaunee Co.: All about WIC nutrition program
439 people. That is how many people were helped this last year by the Women Infants and Children Program, otherwise known as WIC. WIC is a nutrition program to help keep families strong and healthy. Established as a pilot program in 1972 and made permanent in 1974, WIC is administered at the federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
WIC provides nutrition counseling by showing participants how to plan and prepare healthy meals as well as teaching people how to shop on a budget. The WIC program helps families with the purchase of foods such as milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables, cereal, baby food, some infant formula and other food items needed for healthy babies and children. Most state WIC programs provide vouchers that participants use at authorized food stores. A wide variety of state and local organizations cooperate in providing the food and health care benefits, and 46,000 merchants nationwide accept WIC vouchers.
WIC also provides breastfeeding support. Breast milk is the healthiest food for babies. WIC can teach mothers how to continue to breastfeed as they return to work or school, as well as how to obtain and use a breast pump. Moms who breastfeed their babies will receive additional foods, as well as counseling with a lactation educator. WIC also provides formula for those infants who are not breastfed.
Many working families qualify for WIC. The program uses the same income criteria as free and reduced school lunches. You are also income eligible if you receive Kinship Care, W-2 or Foodshare. Fathers, guardians or foster parents may apply for the program for their children. In addition, WIC also functions as a referral network providing information on doctors, dentists, immunizations, prenatal care coordination, FoodShare, Badger Care Plus and other helpful services. WIC income criteria can be found at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/wic/income-guidelines.htm.
WIC is effective in improving the health of pregnant women, new mothers and their infants. A 1990 study showed that women who participated in the program during their pregnancies had lower Medicaid costs for themselves and their babies than did women who did not participate. WIC participation was also linked with longer gestation periods, higher birthweights and lower infant mortality.
In Kewaunee County, the WIC program is administered by our Public Health Department with a registered dietician and WIC aide on staff. If interested in the WIC program, please call (920) 388-7160.
Scott Feldt is the administrator of Kewaunee County.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Kewaunee Co.: All about WIC nutrition program