The WIC Program was started officially in 1974 as a federally-sponsored program providing grants to states to fund supplemental food, healthcare, and nutrition education for certain low-income women and children (up to the age of five). It is designed to be a short-term intervention program to improve nutrition decisions and promote healthy behaviors over the lifetime of a high-risk target population.
To participate in the Fulton New York WIC program, certain guidelines have to be met. It is intended to help postpartum and pregnant women, and children that are considered to be at nutritional risk. Income is limited to 185% of the poverty guidelines established by the federal government, or applicants must also be enrolled in Medicaid, SNAP, or TANF.
WIC provides certain foods that have been predetermined to be essential to normal growth and development. These foods include milk, whole grains, fresh vegetables, whole wheat bread, tuna, canned and dried beans, peanut butter, cheese, juice, eggs, and infant formula.
Benefits differ slightly for women that are actively breastfeeding. The amounts per person are predetermined, and vouchers are provided that can be used at the register to pay for the items. Some states have begun to offer electronic benefit transfer cards (EBT) that can be used in the same way as credit cards to pay for approved foods.
Beginning in 1994 with the Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work campaign, WIC has promoted breastfeeding for women as the healthiest choice to meet the nutritional needs of their babies. Support is provided through educational materials as well as offering consultations with trained women who also have experience with breast feeding.
Women who are experiencing difficulty with breastfeeding can benefit by the guidance of others who have faced the same difficulties before. The goal of the campaign is not only to promote breastfeeding with mothers, but also to educate the public so that breastfeeding will be more accepted in general.
Health care screenings for mothers and children are also provided as a no-cost benefit to WIC participants. Children are screened for birth defects, proper development through the age of five, and referrals are given for outside health care sources are provided when appropriate.
Malone New York WIC also checks immunization records to ensure that children’s immunizations are kept up to date. Child participants of the WIC program have been demonstrated to benefit by having normal childhood growth, less anemia, increased memory and vocabulary scores, and greater access to pediatric services.
Mothers are provided with health benefits that include checkups during pregnancy and postpartum. These include health screenings and access to either manual or electric breast pumps. Women participating in the WIC program have been showing to have fewer premature babies, fewer low birthweight babies, and they have lower fetal and infant mortality rates.
This is just a general summary of the benefits provided through the WIC program. Benefits may differ slightly from state to state, and qualifications may change. The most up-to-date information can be obtained at a local WIC clinic.