When Sarah Gill of Hillsboro was pregnant with her now 18-month-old daughter, Gracie, she knew where to turn for help with the cost of eating for two — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
She was familiar with the program through her work at Marion County Health Department. WIC is a program that provides nutritious food for breastfeeding, pregnant, and recently pregnant women, infants, and children through age 4 that qualify on income.
“Especially when she was little it helped with formula,” Gill said.
Cans of formula cost about $15. Her husband, Josh Gill, is unable to work full time while he is a student at Tabor College, so the assistance is helpful, she said.
WIC also provided Gill with important nutrition education. Gracie didn’t get enough vitamin C during the switch to table food, because she didn’t like juice. WIC dietitian Sherie Moody gave Gill recipes to work around Gracie’s distaste for juice.
Other education efforts teach parents about menu planning and breastfeeding.
Some people who qualify for WIC don’t participate because of personal pride. Gill said she has seen several mothers inquire about the program, only to turn down its assistance later.
People shouldn’t let pride get in the way of participating if they really need it, she said.
“I want to urge people not to shy off from using it,” Gill said.
About 45 percent of infants nationally are enrolled in WIC, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.
Marion County has four WIC vendors: Carlsons’ Grocery in Marion, Dale’s Market and Vogt’s Hometown Market in Hillsboro, and Peabody Market, Moody said.
The program was created to provide children and pregnant women with healthy foods, so WIC vouchers can only be redeemed for certain foods specified on the voucher.
Peanut butter, baby food, formula, cereal, milk, and cheese are examples of foods available through WIC. The program recently expanded to include fresh fruit and vegetables.
To qualify, a household must earn no more than 185 percent of the poverty level. For a family of two, that is $26,955, and for a family of four, that is $40,793.
To apply or learn more about WIC, contact Marion County Health Department at (620) 382-2550.