WIC: Working with Families to Promote Health & Wellness
By: Kelly Nettnin, BS, CSAPC, Communications Specialist
Women, Infants and Children (WIC), one of the most successful social service and public health initiatives in the nation, provides healthy food, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and other health related referrals to women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have children under the age of five. The federally funded program has been proven effective in preventing and improving nutrition related health problems within its population.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities just released an updated version of their WIC Works: Addressing the Nutrition and Health Needs of Low-Income Families for 40 Years report. This report summarizes research on WIC’s effects on: pregnancy and birth outcomes, nutrition, immunization, health, and cognitive development and neighborhood food environments. The report now includes key recent findings such as:
WIC participation is associated with large reductions in the risk of adverse birth outcomes beginning about the 29th week of pregnancy;
Obesity rates declined among two to four year olds on WIC between 2010 and 2014;
WIC participation reduces the prevalence of food insecurity among children by at least 20 percent; and
Average scores for young, low-income children on the Healthy Eating Index increased more than twice as much among WIC participants as among non-participants after the 2009 WIC food package changes.
The WIC program works with families to promote breastfeeding and healthy habits like eating more fiber, fruit, vegetables, whole grain foods and choosing to drink low fat milk and water. In order to participate in the WIC program, applicants must be pregnant or have recently had a baby or have a child under the age of 5, live in North Carolina, meet income eligibility guidelines and be at nutritional risk. A person receiving Medicaid or assistance from the NC Food and Nutrition Services (food stamps) automatically meets the income eligibility requirement. A nutritionist assesses for nutritional risk at no cost to the participant.Applicants can be seen at one of the WIC offices (Manteo, Kill Devil Hills or Frisco) to determine eligibility. If you believe that you or someone in your family may be eligible for WIC services, please call the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services, an equal opportunity provider, at 252.475.5068 to schedule an appointment.