The following post is by Melinda Muller, who is a Dietetic Technology student. She is volunteering at several community organizations that provide nutritional food and education to the general public. As she visits these organizations, she will chronicle her time there and give us valuable information regarding their mission and how we can help!
Last week she gave us an inside look at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. This week she is writing to us about her experiences with the WIC Program of NJ…
The Purpose of This Series:
As a second-year Dietetic Technology student, I have been given the opportunity to visit several organizations in New Jersey that provide nutrition education and food to the general public. I plan to participate in volunteer work and glean nutrition information from Registered Dietitians at the sites.
I am interested in learning how the study of dietetics tangibly intersects with my community and what the sites, which I am scheduled to visit, offer the public. Before I became involved with dietetics, I had not heard of some of these organizations, let alone been aware of their functions. However, as this semester progresses, I hope to be able to obtain valuable information about them, as well as obtain skill while visiting these places.
As I research and volunteer, I would like to take you with me on my journey and pass on some of the information that I believe you may find interesting.
Week 2: WIC Program of NJ
WIC is a federally-funded program that assists pregnant women, postpartum women, infants, and children younger than 5 years old. It provides supplemental nutrition, through the form of checks, to families with a low income. Checks are specific to food items and can be redeemed at authorized stores.
This program accepts into it women and children who meet specific guidelines. After they have been accepted, a nutritionist meets with the women to review their nutritional needs and determine what package of checks they will receive.
Benefits Of The WIC Program
As a federally-funded program, there are specific foods that are authorized. These include: milk, cheese, eggs, whole grade bread, brown rice, whole grain tortillas, dry or canned beans, peas, lentils, fresh fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, breakfast cereal, 100% juices, canned fish, baby foods, infant cereal, and infant formula .
Services of the WIC program are not limited to nutritional supplement checks. The program also provides members with referrals as needed for health care or social services. Participators in the program have the opportunities to become eligible for other programs, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
A nutritionist can also give women nutritional education and counseling. Breastfeeding education is additionally available to women in the WIC program. WIC encourages women to breastfeed rather than formula feed for a variety of health reasons. It rewards fully breastfeeding women with six extra months on the plan beyond the normal limit. They are also able to receive checks for extra food while breastfeeding.
Qualifications For The WIC Program of NJ
Only eligible women and children can be in the WIC program. WIC only provides services to people who are on Medicaid, have a gross income below a certain amount corresponding with the number of people in their household, and are at a nutritional risk.
Members of the WIC program must re-apply every six months to continue receiving benefits. If a woman is fully breastfeeding, she may be allowed to receive benefits up to her infant’s first birthday. Her children can receive benefits through the age of 4. WIC seeks to accept as many people as possible.
The US government funds the WIC program. As a result, the selection of food checks must meet the US dietary guidelines. The packages encourage women to buy fruits and vegetables, eat whole grains, avoid saturated fat, and drink naturally sweet beverages.
Since the workers at WIC are employees only and volunteers are not permitted to work in the facilities, I was only able to observe what happens at WIC and ask questions. The workers are more than sufficiently knowledgeable in their respective fields and seek to care for the members to the best of their abilities.
© 2012, Khaleef “Fat Guy” Crumbley. All rights reserved.