For 25 years, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has been helping Illinois mothers, babies and children get the foods they need for proper growth and development.
Supplemental foods and nutritional education are available to Henry and Stark County residents who meet certain health and economic guidelines. Clients may receive food items such as milk, formula, eggs, cereal and juice and participate in nutrition education classes. Certified lactation counselors are available at both offices.
WIC may be able to help YOU if you...
are pregnant or breastfeeding
have an infant or children up to age 5
are working with limited income or have no income
want to improve your familyís health with good nutrition
WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. It is administered in Illinois by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Even if you or your family members are working, it can be hard making ends meet. The WIC Program may be able to help with the right food and advice on nutrition, health care and immunizations.
WIC enables parents to feed their children properly during critical periods of growth and development. The combination of nutrition education, nutritious foods and access to other health services strengthens families long after their WIC eligibility has ended.
Through the nutrition education offered by the WIC program, mothers learn about their own nutritional needs, as well as those of their infants and children. Participants are taught how to shop for nutritious foods and how to prepare well-balanced meals to improve the health of the entire family. Individual nutritional counseling is also provided.
Itís been said that "breastfeeding is a babyís first immunization" because it protects infants from certain diseases. Other benefits of breastfeeding include aiding the development of a babyís eyesight, speech and intelligence; reducing the likelihood of allergy; and promoting a special loving bond between mother and baby.
Through local WIC clinics, clients can obtain information about:
the benefits of breastfeeding
getting started breastfeeding and continuing for as long as they wish
solving breastfeeding problems
WIC encourages breastfeeding since humanmilk is the most appropriate source of nutrition for infants.However, WIC also provides iron-fortified infant formula, as well as infant cereal and juice.
WIC provides eligible participants with a variety of highly nutritious supplemental foods, including:
dry beans or peas
iron-fortified infant formula
breastfeeding mothers may also receive tuna fish and carrots
These foods are rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and folic acid.
Through the Farmersí Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), participants are provided with additional coupons that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmersí markets. (FMNP is currently in a limited service area.)
WIC provides free health screenings to all participants to determine nutritional risk. A nutritional risk is any problem, medical or dietary, that is caused by or is associated with what you eat. Examples are poor growth in a child, poor eating habits and tooth decay.
WIC determines nutritional risk by measuring height and weight, doing a simple blood test and reviewing each participantís medical history and dietary intake.
WIC encourages and provides access to health care by providing participants with referrals to other community-based agencies and providers. WIC staff are trained to help participants find the care providers they need, including doctors, public health nurses and social service agencies.
WIC provides an ideal place to coordinate other health services because participants receive an assessment of nutritional and health status at each certification. The results of this assessment are used to develop the participantís food package, provide nutrition education and breastfeeding support, and make appropriate referrals for other health services such as:
prenatal smoking-cessation programs
substance abuse programs
family case management
children with special health care needs
EPSDT or well-child visits
Recognizing the role of the WIC program as an adjunct and gateway to other health services, USDA has included additional requirements for coordination in the Federal Regulations. These WIC-coordinated health initiatives include:
nutritional and health screening
prenatal weight-gain education and monitoring
high-risk nutrition counseling
nutrition education that includes eating more fruits and vegetables (5-A-Day)
breastfeeding promotion and support
assessing the need for and encouraging prenatal smoking cessation
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), authorized by Congress in 1972, is a federal health, nutrition and prevention program with a successful record of improving the diet and safeguarding the health of infants, children under age 5 and pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women who are at risk for nutrition-related illness.
In Illinois, approximately 40 percent of all babies born are on the WIC program. Studies show the tremendous impact the WIC Program has had on improving the health status of at-risk, low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and young children. WIC is the entry point or "gateway" program for this population into the health care system. Recent studies have shown that WIC reduces fetal deaths, infant mortality, low birth weight rates and iron-deficiency anemia in children and increases immunization rates.
WIC provides supplemental food through the issuance of food prescription vouchers, nutrition education and social services referral. Benefits are available in all 102 Illinois counties at more than 200 clinics, which include county health departments, community action agencies and hospitals.
Illinois WIC currently provides services to more than 245,000 women, infants and children each month. Household income must be below the eligibility level (no more than 185 percent of the poverty level) and participants must be at nutritional risk. Some risk factors include abnormal weight gain during pregnancy, iron-deficiency anemia and related health risks.
To be eligible for WIC, an applicant must be pregnant, in the postpartum period (six months after delivery) and/or breastfeeding or an infant or child under age 5. Also, a health professional must determine that a health or nutritional risk exists.
The WIC food package is a food prescription that is developed to supplement the dietary needs of participants. The foods are specifically chosen to provide high levels of Vitamins A and C, protein, iron, calcium and folic acid, nutrients which have been scientifically shown to be lacking or needed in extra amounts in the diets of the low-income population.
The WIC food prescription may include specially formulated supplements required by infants and children with medical conditions. The WIC program coordinates the approval of these special formulas with the medical community. State and local agency staff receive training and must maintain a high level of expertise regarding the nutritional needs of high-risk infants, children and mothers.
The main focus of WIC is to educate mothers on the proper nutrition for their babies and young children. It promotes a better quality of life for Illinois families by providing healthful foods; nutrition education for parents; access to health care, including immunizations for infants and young children; support for mothers who breastfeed; and medical and social service referrals. Through referrals, WIC is able to connect families to other important services and educational opportunities.
(P.L.95-627) - (National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Act Amendments of 1975 P.L.96-499).
WIC is an important initiative in the fight to reduce infant mortality and morbidity. Research indicates that WIC is highly cost-effective in this area. Data from many studies has demonstrated that medical costs are significantly reduced by decreasing the number of babies born with low birth weight, since these babies require more hospital care.
WIC creates significant savings in the Illinois Medicaid program by promoting better nutrition among low-income pregnant women and infants. For every dollar invested in the WIC program for pregnant women, about $2.90 is saved in Medicaid expenses in Illinois for women and babies in the first 60 days after birth. (Mathematica Study, 1990.)
In a 1993 joint analysis of data from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System conducted by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food Research and Action Center, the WIC program was shown to reduce the level of anemia among participating preschool children.
During the period 1982 to 1992, there was a decrease in the rate of anemia between an initial screening when children first entered the WIC program and a follow-up visit done later the same year. The fact that WIC helps to reduce anemia, a nutritional problem affecting one in four low-income children, means that it helps protect children from the behavioral and cognitive deficiencies associated with anemia. WIC foods are a "prescription" for the nutritional needs of participants. WIC foods are rich in protein, iron, Vitamins C and A, folic acid and calcium, which are vital to healthy development during pregnancy and early childhood.
The following studies have documented that for each dollar spent on pregnant women in WIC, between $2 and $5 is saved in Medicaid costs; for each dollar spent on newborns in WIC, between $4 and $5 is saved in Medicaid costs. These dramatic effects are due in large part to WIC working in concert with numerous other health care programs such as maternal and child health services, immunization, migrant and community health services and Medicaid.
The Mathematica Policy Research Study of 1993 entitled "Infant Mortality Among Medicaid Newborns in Five States: The Effects of Prenatal WIC Participation" provides a strong indication that WIC services have a positive effect on infant mortality that is independent of prenatal care.
The 1992 report published by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) entitled "Early Intervention: Federal Investments Like WIC Can Produce Savings" has shown that providing prenatal WIC services substantially reduces costs for infant medical services. First-year medical savings total $3.07 for every dollar invested in prenatal WIC services.
A 1990 Mathematica study of Medicaid births entitled "The Savings in Medicaid Costs for Newborns and Their Mothers From Prenatal Participation in the WIC Program" shows that women receiving prenatal WIC services, compared with demographically similar women who do not receive services, have lower rates of low birth weight babies.
Scientific American (February 1996) recently reported on a study of the impact of undernutrition on childrenís mental development. It has long been recognized that undernutrition can result in a variety of health problems for children, including weight loss, stunted growth and increased susceptibility to infection. In addition, undernutrition can impact intellectual development. This new evidence further strengthens the need to assess the diets and health indicators of infants and children and to ensure that minimum nutritional levels are met.
I learned about WIC through a friend while pregnant with my first child in 1991. It helped me tremendously, since I was in school full-time and working part-time. I remained on the WIC program through my second pregnancy and until I graduated from college.
Now, in 1997, I am pregnant with my third child and still very much a part of WIC--as a Nurse/Nutritionist at Tazewell County Health Department in Tremont, Illinois.
I not only counsel others about nutritious foods and breastfeeding benefits, but I live by my own advice. The WIC program taught me the importance of healthy foods, and I continue to purchase the same foods that I was offered through WIC. What better nutrition could you give your baby than breast milk-- I am proud to be a breastfeeding mom!
Many times in my interactions with clients at work, I relate to them that I do understand and empathize with their situations. Like them, I was once on the other side of the desk. But with motivation, determination and the help of the vast community resources available today, they can make their lives be what they want them to be--they too can be a success story." < By Tanya Belsly, RN, BSN
In Chicago, as in most of the country, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has distributed supplemental foods through the redemption of vouchers at approved retail grocery stores.
WIC participants in Chicago have access to a unique project initiated in partnership with USDA and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Implemented in 1993 as a pilot program, WIC Food Centers provide USDA-approved products to program participants in a clean, safe and "user-friendly" environment.
Each center provides space for supplemental nutrition education, a waiting area for guests who accompany participants to the centers, food preparation demonstrations and supervised child-care areas.
WIC Food Centers operate as part of the communities in which they are located. Community development is advanced through the physical improvement of the food center sites, community-based hiring practices and the related opportunities for job training.
To date, the WIC Food Center Project has 15 centers operating in Chicago, ensuring the integrity of WIC food benefits to more than 57,000 women, infants and children. More than 300 staff, many previously unemployed and on public assistance, are gainfully employed by the food centers. Economic development provided by the Food Center Project has furthered the enhancement of neighborhoods by being an anchor for the developed area, making private investment worthwhile.
The overwhelming success of the project has been recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with an award for innovation.
Annual FCS income guidelines for the WIC Program were obtained by multiplying the annual federal poverty guidelines and increment for each additional family member by 1.85 and rounding the results as necessary. Monthly (weekly) income guidelines for the WIC Program were obtained by multiplying the federal guidelines/increment by 1.85, dividing by 12 (52), and rounding the results upward as necessary.
The above guidelines reflect 185% of poverty and meet the requirements of 7 CFR, Part 246 (AMDT.3).
Henry County Health Department 4424 US Hwy 34 Kewanee, IL 61443 309-852-0197 Copyright 2007 All rights reserved