By Arin M. Daigneau RD, CDE, IBCLC
March is National Nutrition Month, and we would like to highlight an important program improving nutrition and health of low income mothers and children in our communities. Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support and supplemental foods to nutritionally at-risk pregnant women, new mothers and children five and younger. The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association provides the federally-funded program in Routt, Moffat and Jackson counties.
WIC families have at least four nutrition education appointments with a WIC educator per year to help them improve their families’ eating habits. Families who participate in the sessions receive WIC checks to buy wholesome foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, cheese, whole grains, beans, canned fish and peanut butter.
In 2014, the VNA’s growing WIC program served more than 940 women and provided nearly $350,000 in healthy foods to young families. We also began helping families in Jackson County and partnered with local volunteers and organizations, including LiveWell, Yampatika and the Family Development Center to find new ways to reach moms and kids who can benefit from our expertise and resources. Improving infant nutrition is a major goal of WIC. Last year, 88 percent of our moms began breastfeeding and nearly 25 percent were breastfeeding their child at 12 months. These rates continue to rise and are well above the state WIC average.
Since WIC began in 1974, studies and reports have confirmed it is one of the most successful and cost-effective nutrition intervention programs in the nation. Studies have found WIC reduces fetal and infant deaths and helps prevent low birth weight. Pregnant women in the program are more likely to receive prenatal care earlier and have longer pregnancies. Children in the WIC program have improved physical and cognitive development and are more likely to have regular medical care and up to date immunizations.
If you would like to learn more about WIC or are interested in enrolling your family, please call us at 970-871-7653.