WIC provides nutrition stepping stone
Good nutrition, a stepping stone to a healthy life, starts early. To establish a healthy diet during pregnancy and early childhood, families need access to nutritious foods as well as education and support to help them overcome barriers to healthy eating.
That is where WIC comes in. Established in 1974, the Women, Infants and Children program helps ensure women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and children up to age five, have the food and nutrition education necessary for healthy growth and development.
Women who qualify for the program receive nutrition counseling and foods designed to supplement their diets with important nutrients. WIC-approved foods include fruits and vegetables, eggs, healthy dairy products, beans, and whole grain bread.
WIC, a federally funded program, is available at Northwest Colorado Health. In 2018, WIC served more than 800 women, babies, and children in Moffat, Routt, and Jackson counties.
Arin Daigneau, family nutrition, health and safety services manager at Northwest Colorado Health, attributes the program’s success to the relationships WIC educators have with their clients.
“For our program to truly impact the nutrition and health of families in our community, they have to participate. If they didn’t feel comfortable and supported they wouldn’t continue with the program,” she said. “We serve some families for many years, from the beginning of their first pregnancy until their youngest child turns five.”
WIC has evolved to be relevant and user-friendly for modern moms. They use an app to find WIC-eligible foods in the grocery store, pay for them with an e-WIC card, and receive appointment reminders, program updates, and nutrition tips via text.
To qualify, women and children must meet income and state residency requirements and be nutritionally at risk. They may have medical risks such as anemia or a history of pregnancy complications or dietary risks such as poor nutrition.
Shania Gurr, a registered dietician at Northwest Colorado Health, works with WIC clients who have a particularly high risk of health problems.
Counseling sessions are an opportunity for her to check in with them about their eating and overall health, making sure they are up-to-date on immunizations and well-child visits and have a health care and dental provider.
“WIC is successful because it’s basic,” Gurr said. “We’re giving them nutrition and guidance they might otherwise not be getting and having conversations to see if we can help them with other aspects of their health. If they stick with it, the benefits they receive from this program can significantly improve their health in the long term.”
For more information about WIC, visit northwestcoloradohealth.org/wic or call 970-871-7653.
When it opens later this year, the Memorial Regional Health medical office building will recognize supporters with a hand-forged iron tree of life.