This Holiday Season Let WIC Help Feed Your Children

If you are a low income mother or currently pregnant there can be worry over the holiday season as to how you will feed yourself and your children. I recently learned from Montana State University Professor, Melody Anacker, the best way to beat the stress of how you will provide for yourself and your little ones is to get educated and know what is available for qualifying individuals.

For over 30 years, Montana’s program, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has fed over 20,000 participants per month. Currently there are about 200 authorized retailers of WIC food items. To become eligible, participants must meet an income eligibility criterion, which is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, a resident of Montana and be determined as having a nutritional need.

By participating in WIC you will receive essential nutrition that is vital for your child’s first five years of life. The first five years of a child’s life is when they develop eating habits that extend into adolescence and adulthood. If a child is not taught healthy eating habits they are at high risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Once accepted into the program, WIC participants receive a benefit package. The package includes a list of specific high quality foods that may be purchased at participating retailers.

You can benefit by using WIC in these ways:

  • Breastfeeding promotion and support
  • Benefits to buy healthy foods
  • Health and social service referrals
  • Tips for eating well to improve health

I want to show readers who are thinking about participating in WIC how easy it is to use in the store. The following steps explain step-by-step the stress free way to use WIC at a participating retailer:

  1. Make sure you are shopping within the qualifying dates on your WIC benefits; they will be labeled, “first day to use” and “last day to use”.

  1. Bring your WIC Participant Booklet with you to the store.

  1. Use your WIC approved food list to find food selections. The food list makes shopping a breeze as it includes the main food category, qualifying brands and restricted brands.

  1. When finished shopping, at the checkout, separate WIC items from non-WIC items for the cashier. The cashier will verify your items are WIC approved. Once the transaction is complete, the cashier will want your signature on the WIC benefit.

I strongly encourage those who think they may qualify to apply and get started with WIC.  Please call 1-800-433-4298 to find a clinic near you or go to the MT WIC website at http://wic.mt.gov.