Arin M. Daigneau: A helping hand

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Where do you go for advice on nutrition and breastfeeding? If you live in Moffat or Routt counties, you likely have heard about a program referred to as WIC, but you may not know what it is and who it is for.

WIC — or Women, Infants and Children — is a nutrition education, breastfeeding support and supplemental food program. WIC is a federally funded program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is intended to help low-income families develop healthy lifestyles. The program serves pregnant women, breastfeeding women, infants and children as old as 5. In 2011, the program served 248 women, 169 infants and 481 children in Routt and Moffat counties.

People may think of WIC as being similar to food stamps in that it provides vouchers to go to the store and buy food, but WIC is much more than that. Clients receive at least four one-on-one education sessions per year on topics relative and important to them. They also receive prenatal weight gain monitoring for women, growth and weight gain monitoring for infants and children and anemia screenings for all participants. Regular nutrition interviews take place for all clients to determine nutrition or health risks and provide education and referrals to physicians, oral health and mental health professionals as needed. Referrals also are provided to many other programs and resources in our communities.

WIC clients have appointments at least once every three months. At the end of each nutrition assessment and education session, they are given tailored food package vouchers to use at the store. The foods provided through WIC help clients get adequate protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, iron and other nutrients and include milk, cheese, eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, peanut butter, whole grains, juice, infant cereal and baby food. For infants who are not exclusively breastfed, supplemental infant formula is provided.

WIC also provides breastfeeding support to breastfeeding moms and babies. The program helps prevent and resolve any breastfeeding complications that may occur and promote exclusive breastfeeding until children are 1 to 2 years old. A breast pump can be loaned to clients, and working mothers are given their own personal electric breast pump to keep.

If you or someone you know may benefit from the WIC program, call 970-871-7653. Our offices are located inside the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in Craig and Steamboat.

Arin M. Daigneau

Women, Infants and Children director at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

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