Washington County WIC program helps families of young children
With inflation driving prices up across the board, and with grocery prices in particular skyrocketing, Washington County officials want residents with young children to know that there are resources available to support them.
Washington County's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (usually referred to simply as WIC) can support 24,000 more people, officials say.
The federally funded program gets its money through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the funding can go away if not enough people use it. Conversely, Washington County's allocation can increase if more families utilize WIC.
"We wanted to get the word out so we can have more participating households," said program manager Tara Olson. "The (agency) who funds us determines how much funding we get based off of our caseload."
She said it's especially important to highlight this resource now, as grocery prices have risen 12% compared to last year, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Olson said there is also often a stigma attached to seeking government assistance, so the county program reached out to current members for testimonials that are posted on the county's website.
Rebecca Medearis took advantage of the WIC program's support for breastfeeding mothers when she was sick and worried that her baby wasn't getting enough milk. The WIC was able to reach out to a counselor, who got back to her the same day.
"She just encouraged me to keep drinking water and assured me that my body was just focusing on healing and that my milk should go back to normal once I was okay," Medearis said in the video. "If you need a little bit of extra support, then accept it and be grateful for it because it really is an amazing, helpful program."
The program's name is a bit of a misnomer, because even people who aren't women can take advantage of WIC, as Washington County resident Salvador Galvan pointed out in his testimonial video.
"Even if it's called Women, Infants and Children, it's helpful for the whole family, not just for the kids … everybody benefits," said Galvan.
Fathers, step-parents, grandparents and foster parents can also qualify.
WIC also offers nutritionists and dietary specialists, who can help parents come up with healthy meals for their kids and advise them on how to deal with picky eaters or infants who need to have solid foods introduced to their diet.
The program also offers vouchers that can be used at local farmers markets to access fresh, local produce.
Anyone who is pregnant or has children under 5 may qualify. The county newsletter states that a family of four can make over $50,000 a year and still be eligible for services through WIC.
Families who receive SNAP or TANF benefits automatically qualify. Ditto for households who are on the Oregon Health Plan.
Call 1-844-599-9714 or visit signupwic.com to find out more and locate services in your area.
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