WIC serves more than 15 thousand people in Vermont.
“About 3,000 of those are babies. About 2,500 are women, and the rest are children age one to four,” said Donna Bister, VT WIC Program Director.
Services through WIC fall into four main categories.
“We provide health care screenings and referrals for families with young children and pregnant women. Breast feeding support for those moms,” said Bister. “WIC also provides nutrition education and counseling. And then a package of nutritious specific foods”.
For those who participate in WIC changes are coming. The first will go into effect in just a few weeks.
Part of WIC's benefits for children is six dollars a month for fruits and vegetables. That will soon be bumped up to eight.
“Part of WIC's goal is to help family’s create lifelong healthy habits. And so even a few dollars that they can spend just on fruits and vegetables and nothing else will help establish that healthy habit early,” said Bister.
Bister says that change helps families develop healthy eating habits early on.
“Many low income families don't want to take a chance on buying something they are not absolutely certain their kids are going to eat. So this money helps,” said Bister.
Other changes on the way include such as adding more items people can receive as substitutes.
“Some soy beverage and tofu food items that currently require a doctor’s prescription for children will be available just on request. So that will be a huge change for families that prefer that type of food item,” said Bister.
But that's not all Bister says expect more changes to come in the next few years.
Another change on the way will be how people receive their food benefits; right now WIC deliveries groceries to its participants twice a month. In just a few short years that will be obsolete, instead the state would provide a card similar to the EBT cards. And people would then go to the store and shop for food on their own.