More Missourians Receiving Assistance Through WIC

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The number of Missouri women, infants and children receiving nutrition information and food assistance through the WIC program grew nearly 10 percent in the last year.

More than 148,000 Missourians currently participate in the program every month, up from an average of 135,000 participants per month last year.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children – commonly known as WIC – provides nutrition services to improve the health of pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children up to 5 years of age who meet income and residency guidelines.

“Good nutrition is essential to giving babies a healthy start in life,” said Dr. Lyn Konstant, bureau chief for the WIC program at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “Providing nutritious food and health information to women who are pregnant, as well as mothers of infants and young children, helps thousands of women make healthier choices for themselves and their families.”

In Missouri, 43 percent of mothers who gave birth in 2007 received WIC services to maintain good health during pregnancy and improve the health of their babies. More than half of all infants born in Missouri receive WIC services during their first year of life.

“New parents benefit from the assistance they receive from WIC and appreciate the variety of services and the accessibility of the program at local clinics throughout the state,” Konstant said.

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WIC services in Missouri are coordinated by 118 local providers, including county and city health departments. Clinics providing WIC services are offered at 250 locations across the state.

Services include nutrition education, counseling, screening and risk assessment; breastfeeding promotion and support; referrals to health-care providers and social services agencies; and food assistance.

“The food packages WIC recipients receive are specially designed to help boost nutrition for pregnant women and young children,” Konstant said.

Foods that can be purchased with WIC checks target specific essential nutrients often missing from the diets of participants, such as vitamins A, C and D, iron, calcium and protein. Foods provided through the program include cereals, milk, cheese, eggs, dried beans and peas, juice, and peanut butter.

To qualify for the WIC program, participants must:

* Visit a local WIC clinic to have their nutritional health status assessed by a health professional. Nutrition assessments are conducted at the WIC clinics located throughout Missouri.

* Provide proof of identity and residence in Missouri.

* Meet certain income requirements. A family of four can earn up to $3,269 per month to qualify for the program.

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