More families eligible for supplemental nutrition help

HONOLULU — More women and children in Hawai‘i can now qualify for a federally funded program that provides residents with healthy foods, nutrition education, and social services referrals, the state Department of Health said. 

 New eligibility guidelines for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children became effective July 1, expanding the program’s ability to serve young families.

 “During these challenging economic times, this program provides two major boosts to Hawai‘i’s people,” said state Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “The WIC program helps our families live healthier lives and make better choices. It also maximizes the use of federal dollars and helps our local economy when program participants purchase healthy foods from local WIC approved stores.” 

The program, administered under DOH, serves about 36,650 clients on all islands. To be eligible for WIC, participants must either be women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or who have recently given birth; and children under age five who meet income guidelines and have a medical or nutritional risk. 

“We are ready to help more families who can benefit from this worthy program,” said Linda Chock, WIC Services Branch Chief. “We know that providing proper nutrition for our youngest keiki can prevent serious health problems later in life.  Research shows pregnant women enrolled in WIC programs have longer pregnancies that lead to fewer premature births and reduce health risks for their babies.”

WIC’s website at hawaii.gov/health/family-child-health/wic/webdraft.html provides information on the new income criteria, as well the program’s background and benefits. Families may also call 888-820-6425 to inquire whether they qualify.

 The WIC program was established by Congress in 1972 because of concern over high infant mortality rates in the U.S. and the health and nutritional status of pregnant women and young children.

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