WIC Program Provides Nutritional Benefits for Families
By Public Relations Specialist Jesse Holt
Southcentral Foundation values family as the heart of the Alaska Native Community. To support the goal of building healthy families, SCF now has a Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children office available to customer-owners and residents in the Anchorage area. WIC addresses the nutritional needs of pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, postpartum non-breastfeeding mothers, and children under age 5. The program provides breastfeeding support, free healthy foods, nutritional counseling, health screenings, referrals to additional programs, and more. While often associated primarily with nutrition, WIC strives to promote breastfeeding support to as many families as possible.
“WIC is known as a formula provider, and we’d like to be known for breastfeeding support,” SCF WIC Coordinator Karen Cutler said. “We can offer breastfeeding pumps to people if they need one temporarily, or long term in some cases.”
Studies have shown that breastfeeding may protect babies from many illnesses, and may lower the risk of asthma, obesity, and Type 1 diabetes.
Since its inception in 1972, WIC has supported millions of families and has earned the distinction of being one of the nation’s most successful and cost-effective nutrition programs. According to the National Library of Medicine, babies had a lower risk of preterm birth and infant mortality within the first year if the family was enrolled in WIC. Research conducted by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service and other agencies shows that pregnant women enrolled in WIC experience fewer premature births, lower rates of anemia due to iron deficiency, and improved feeding practices with their newborns. Additionally, babies enrolled in WIC generally breastfeed longer, show improved cognitive development, and are more likely to have a regular source of medical care.
WIC is not exclusive to new mothers and is open to all caregivers of babies and children under 5 years of age who may be eligible for benefits.
More information on program eligibility, visit southcentralfoundation.com/wic. WIC employees are available to assist with questions at the SCF WIC office, which is temporarily located in the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center 1 North at 4320 Diplomacy Drive, Anchorage Alaska, 99508. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.