Getting healthier: WIC changes program - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Getting healthier: WIC changes program

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Decades ago, the Women, Infants and Children Programs launched across the country, and to change with the dietary needs of the people it serves, the program is changing too.

Nutrition recommendations have been changing through the years, but the WIC program has been nearly unchanged for 30 years. Now, the program is including adding more foods in some healthier categories and reducing foods in other less healthy categories.

The WIC programs have long offered low-income families food packages that include things like milk, juice, eggs and breakfast cereal, but there were things missing from the program, like fresh fruits and vegetables.

"It increases their vitamins and minerals and antioxidants which are all super important for growing bodies," HyVee Registered Dietician Megan Dalsing said.

The WIC program doesn't just give out food checks; they give nutrition education. But some of the recommended foods weren't available through WIC and could be out of budget. Now, WIC offers fresh fruits, veggies, and whole-wheat products.

"We've always done nutrition education with the families, but now the checks kind of follow that. With those new foods, we're able to offer a better variety and they can actually take the education and add the foods in," WIC Supervisor Gina Dowling said.

Other changes include lowering the amounts of high fat dairy products like cheese and going for skim or one percent milk for moms and kids over the age of two.

"It's a way for moms to introduce foods at a young age. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and to have the children establish good, healthy habits for a lifetime," Dalsing said.

Healthy habits for a lifetime may be what all moms want, but some had a hard time affording.

"It's not that they don't want to make these healthy decisions, just that they might not have the means to do so, so I think this will really help with that," Dowling said.

Another key change to WIC impacts breastfeeding mothers. Those mothers will get more variety and larger quantities of foods. Some of those new foods include canned salmon or tuna. Also, fully breastfeeding infants will receive larger quantities and more types of baby foods after the age of six months.

To see a chart of the new packages, click here.

The WIC program in Dubuque County currently has around 2,000 participants. That number is as of August, and the supervisor tells us the number just keeps going up.

For the next few months, the national program will be taking comments and suggestions about the changes from the local offices to see if any adjustments need to be made.

Online Reporter: Jamie Grey

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