Jennifer Porter and Rachel Bowman
Jennifer Porter, RDN, is a Health Program Coordinator, and Rachel Bowman is a Nutrition Coordinator for the Utah WIC program. Visit wic.utah.gov to learn more.
Nutritious food is not always guaranteed for everyone in our world today. Millions of individuals and families in the U.S. struggle to afford adequate and nutritious meals. Programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) play a crucial role in improving the lives and health of vulnerable populations. Low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, infants, and children under the age of 5 can be served by the WIC program. WIC works to combat the problem of food insecurity by providing eligible participants with the means to purchase nutrient-packed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and protein-rich foods.
Since its beginning in 1974, the WIC program has been known as a premier public health program throughout the world and has earned the reputation of one of the most successful federally-funded nutrition programs in the United States. The WIC program is cost effective in protecting or improving the health and nutritional status of low-income women, infants and children. WIC helps prevent costly health problems associated with inadequate nutrition, such as low birth weight, developmental delays, and chronic diseases. For every $1 invested in prenatal WIC participation, there is an estimated savings of $1.77 to $3.13 in health care costs within the first 60 days after the baby is born. Investment in WIC saves community dollars.
WIC aims to empower participants to make nutritious choices for themselves and their families by providing nutrition education. Nutrition education is a unique requirement of the WIC program and is provided to participants at least twice during a one year period. WIC provides individualized counseling and educates about the importance of proper nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and early childhood development. Participants receive guidance on meal planning, portion sizes, and how to incorporate a variety of nutrient-dense foods into their diets. These benefits continue to support individuals and families even after they leave the WIC program.
The WIC program plays a vital role in Utah’s fight against food insecurity and its work to build healthier communities now and in the future. WIC believes in a multi-faceted approach to supporting the Utah population and actively collaborates with and refers to other community programs and initiatives. There are 47 WIC clinics throughout Utah, serving individuals and families in each of the 13 local health departments. Visit wic.utah.gov to find information about eligibility criteria, benefits, and how to apply for the Utah WIC program.