WIC program returns to region

Published 8:00 am Friday, August 18, 2023

After a three-year pause, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program returns to this region, with some changes.

WIC is a federal supplemental nutrition program with the goal to improve the health of pregnant women, infants and children under the age of five. Along with providing food, the program staff provides nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, screenings and referrals to many other resources and community organizations.

During the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the Virginia WIC program temporarily suspended in-person appointments and transitioned to remote. This change allowed a safe option for WIC patients and staff while still meeting proper requirements.

“Although the program transitioned to remote services, during this time WIC staff continued to provide quality service to many families in need all over the phone,” said Karen Townsend. She works as WIC coordinator for the Piedmont Health District.

As of Wednesday, Aug. 9, appointments have gone back to face-to-face services as well as a new and improved hybrid option. Under federal policy, WIC participants must be present for certification appointments, however, the new hybrid approach allows for some appointments to continue remotely as determined by local staff.

“Previously, most WIC clients were required to attend face-to-face appointments every three months and now most will attend face-to-face appointments every six months,” said Townsend. “There are still some special circumstances that may still require WIC participants to attend more frequent face-to-face appointments.”

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR WIC?

The WIC program serves eligible women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or have just given birth as well as infants less than one-year-old and children less than five years old. To be eligible for the WIC Program, applicants must meet categorical, residential, income and nutrition risk requirements and must prove Virginia residency. The program does have income requirements, however, the WIC program is different from other programs and families may qualify for WIC that do not qualify for SNAP or Medicaid so those interested are encouraged to check their eligibility.

To enroll or learn more, visit VirginiaWIC. com to see the required household income and additional information regarding the program. Piedmont residents can call their local Health Dept to schedule a WIC appointment to determine if eligible for services. Residents can also contact Karen Townsend at Karen. Townsend@vdh.virginia. gov or call 434-392-8187 ext 140 for additional information on how to receive services.