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For Release: March 20, 2014 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

WIC Program Helps Improve Nutrition and Health of OK Families

Healthy eating habits are learned in childhood from the foods children are given and the food choice examples set by those who care for them. For families at nutritional risk, the WIC program can help those who might be missing the opportunity for a healthy diet. WIC is the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children. This program provides nutritious supplemental foods and special nutrition education and counseling. In Oklahoma, more than 86,000 nutritionally at-risk pregnant and new mothers and children up to age 5 participate in the program.

“The goal of the WIC program is to give our children the best possible start in life by providing nutrition education, breastfeeding support, healthy foods and health care referrals during the critical stages of fetal and childhood development,” said Terry Bryce, director of the WIC Service at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “We know these services can help families make life-long healthy eating and lifestyle choices.”

To qualify for WIC, clients must meet income guidelines and have a brief health assessment by a trained health professional. Mothers aren’t the only ones who can apply for WIC benefits for children: two-parent families, single mother or single father families, grandparents, foster parents, or a caretaker or guardian can all apply for WIC for children up to age 5.

“WIC is not a ‘food assistance’ program,” Bryce emphasized. “While WIC offers a variety of healthy food choices including fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and infant foods, it focuses on nutrition education. WIC participants have an opportunity to learn about choosing and preparing healthy snacks, quick and easy meals, healthy fast foods, and feeding picky eaters.”

The program supports breastfeeding mothers by providing breastfeeding information, personal assistance and a breast pump when needed.

WIC also introduces clients to health care services provided through public health including prenatal care, well child clinics, family planning services, guidance services, and immunizations for children.

If you believe you, your family members, or someone else you know may be eligible for WIC, call 1-888-655-2942 for more information, or check with your local county health department.

 

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