Healthier Choices for Children and Families

WIC families will now be able to choose from a broad range of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods, soy milk and tofu products. New guidelines also call for smaller amounts of juice. (Image courtesy of http://www.health.ri.gov)

RHODE ISLAND – Healthier choices are now available to pregnant women, new moms, children under 5, and adult family members caring for younger ones. As Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) reported in early October, “[a]fter 35 years,” the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program (WIC) is changing. “Rhode Island WIC participants will now have new food options from which to choose and have access to healthier food choices.”

The new WIC package is now aligned with guidelines and recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, including promotion of a diet lower in saturated fat and consumption of smaller amounts of juice. The HEALTH statement also indicates that the new WIC program “offers greater variety for cultural or personal food preferences,” for instance green bananas, bok choy and bean sprouts, soy milk and tofu products, and a range of whole-grain foods.

The new program also “strengthens breastfeeding support for new mothers” and provides more foods to meet a children’s changing nutritional needs, beginning at infancy. These fit into WIC’s original aims – to establish “a nutrition program that provides…healthy foods such as milk, juice, cereal, cheese, eggs, infant formula, tuna and carrots; nutrition education to improve family health; breastfeeding advice and support; [and] referrals to doctors, dentists, and other community services.”

As the name implies, WIC especially caters to pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, and moms with babies under six months old. However, according to HEALTH’s website, “fathers, grandparents and foster parents can also apply for WIC for children in their care.” All recipients must live in RI, and they must meet certain income criteria.

For more information about WIC, and who qualifies, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/family/wic or call 401-222-5960.

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