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WIC celebrates 40th anniversary

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:58 a.m. CDT

In 1974, a supplemental food program called WIC — Women, Infants and Children — was introduced to improve the nutritional status of the most vulnerable members of society — pregnant women, infants, children and new mothers.  

WIC began as a two-year pilot program and has grown with programs in all 50 states, five territories and more than 30 Indian Tribal Organizations (ITO).

Locally, WIC has been under the auspices of Matura Community Action Corporation since it began all those decades ago. 

According to Karla Hynes, Matura’s WIC/MCH director, WIC is one of the most cost-effective government programs.

“Research shows that WIC has resulted in fewer premature births, lower incidence of low birth weight infants, fewer infant deaths and a greater likelihood of a pregnant women receiving prenatal care,” Hynes said. 

In fact, a study of birth outcomes demonstrated the benefit-to-cost ratios ranging from $1.77 to $3.13 in Medicaid costs saved for each $1 spent on WIC, according to Hynes. 

WIC has also proven to have a positive effect on children’s diet and diet-related outcomes.

“Studies have shown that children on WIC have higher intake of iron, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin and vitamin B6, without an increase in calories. That translates into healthier kids,” Hynes said.

WIC is available to pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to age 5 are eligible.

“Participant’s income must fall at or below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines, which is $42,643 for a family of four,” Hynes said.

Medicaid recipients are automatically eligible.

WIC is a short-term program.

“Eventually a pregnant woman will deliver, a breastfeeding mom will stop nursing and a child will reach his or her 5th birthday. All those milestones are reasons to graduate from the program,” Hynes said.

The local WIC agency is managed by MATURA Action Corporation. MATURA Action Corporation provides quality programming for families and individuals in need, assisting them in achieving self-sufficiency, strengthening families and improving their quality of life. For more information, contact WIC at 641-202-7114.

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