WIC program seeing major changes

First Posted: 9/28/2009

DOBSON On Oct. 1 the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program will experience an overhaul, but the Surry County director believes it is a change that will encourage healthier habits for women and children.
Its really going to make a difference in families lives. Im excited about it, remarked Allie McCallum, WIC director for Surry County.
WIC, is a federal program that provides food to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and infants through children age 5.
The state has made major changes to the program in order to encourage more participants to breastfeed, eat healthier foods, and choose from a larger variety of foods. McCallum said the changes were also made in an effort to meet the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Healthy People 2010 guidelines, and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.
In the past, program participants received food instruments, like vouchers, to purchase milk, juice, cereal, eggs, dry beans, and peanut butter. Now participants can also get items such as whole grains, rice, tortillas, fruits, vegetables, and tofu. A press release McCallum sent out said this was done to meet more cultural preferences and provide more healthy foods.
For the first time the program will provide cash-value vouchers to participants to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, they will now be able to buy baby food.
The WIC program is especially helpful to families in this economy, McCallum said in the press release. Parents want to give their children healthier choices like more fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Now they can.
Breastfeeding mothers will be provided with almost double the amount of food as non-breastfeeding mothers. McCallum said this was done to encourage more women to breastfeed. She said breastfeeding creates more of a bond between mother and child. She also said that women who breastfeed have less of a chance of developing ovarian or breast cancer.
We realize that breastfeeding is healthier, McCallum remarked.
Another change in the program is that mothers and childs packets will be combined into one large package. Before, the workers would create separate food packages for each mother and each child.
McCallum said that families that come in to apply for WIC are often directed to other services such as Medicaid. They also are given recipes and tips on how to buy and use the foods that are provided for them in their food package.
Not just do we provide the food, but that mom and child will get other services, McCallum said.
Surry County serves about 2,200 WIC participants. This number has jumped by around 200 participants in the past two years.
Those interested in applying for WIC may visit the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center or call 401-8400 between 8:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. to set up an appointment. McCallum said it is better for people to call to set up an appointment so they dont have to wait at the office and can get information about what they need to bring to their interview.
WIC workers can also tell people over the phone if they meet income guidelines for the program. Most mothers and children that receive Medicaid or Food Stamps also qualify for WIC.
More information can also be found at www.nutritionnc.com.
Im really excited, McCallum said. This is the first time in 35 years that a major change has taken place in the program.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or at 719-1952.

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