Tag Archives: WIC

National Nutrition Month 2018: ‘Go Further With Food’

By Sylvia Blyth, RD, LD, CLC
Nutrition Education Coordinator
Division of WIC Services

March is National Nutrition Month, a time to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Choose the right foods

“Go Further with Food” is the theme for 2018, and its importance is timely for many reasons. Whether it’s starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast or fueling up before an athletic event, the foods you choose can make a real difference. Preparing your foods to go further, by planning meals and snacks in advance, can also help to reduce food loss and waste.

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month encourages us to achieve the numerous benefits healthy eating habits offer, but it also urges us to find ways to cut back on food waste. Learning how to manage food resources at home will help you “Go Further with Food,” while saving both nutrients and money.

What Can You Do?

  • Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  • Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  • Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  • Continue to use good food safety practices.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  • Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

For more information, please visit eatright.org.

SC Plants The Seed: A Marriage Between Nutrition And Literacy

Plant the right seed and good things will grow. That’s the goal of SC Plants the Seed,  multi-component, library based intervention program that was developed to improve nutrition access and literacy, among low-income families.

Program driven by partnership

SC Plants the Seed is a partnership between DHEC (SNAP-Ed), the SC State Library, and the SC Department of Social Services.  The program currently integrates activities within four components: nutrition education, increasing access of fresh produce, USDA Summer Food Service Program, and literacy.

A summer of nutrition and reading

Once a month at the Bishopville and Pelion libraries and weekly at the Orangeburg Library, local farmers were invited to set up a farm-stand to give patrons the opportunity to purchase local farm fresh produce.  One of the goals was promoting the Healthy Bucks Program, the SCDSS farmers market incentive.  The program also set out to make it more accessible for SNAP, WIC, and Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) participants to redeem their vouchers.  Persons on SNAP could spend $5 in EBT and receive an additional $10, which only can be used with a local authorized farmer.FreshFruitVeggies

Not only did patrons have the opportunity to purchase produce but the SNAP-Ed program conducted food demonstrations and provided recipe samples prepared with the farmer’s local produce. They were also able to learn and ask about how to select, prepare, and store produce and find out what is in season.

At each event, every child received a free book, by a grant provided by the State Library, and there were arts and crafts activities. The Lee County Library in Bishopville served free meals at each event for children under 18 years of age through the USDA Summer Food Service program.

The farms and libraries that participated

The local farms that participated in the program were Martin Farms of North, SC; Rogers Vegetable Farm of Sumter, SC; and Beason Farms of Pelion, SC.  The host libraries for the summer of 2017 were Lee County Library in Bishopville, Orangeburg County Public Library-Main branch, and the Lexington County Library-Pelion Branch. The program was implemented in conjunction with each library’s summer reading programs.

SC Plants the Seed will return in the summer of 2018!

Chocolate Milk and Canned Goods Now WIC-Approved!

By La’Keisha Coker, MS, RD, LD
Food Package Coordinator
Division of WIC Services

The WIC food package provides supplemental foods designed to meet the special nutritional needs of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, non-breastfeeding postpartum women, infants and children up to 5 years of age who are at nutritional risk.

The new WIC food package went into effect October 1, 2017, and there are some exciting new additions in South Carolina!

Chocolate Milk:

  • One gallon of milk can be exchanged for one gallon of chocolate milk each month for women and children age 2-5
  • Gallon size only
  • Lowest cost

Canned Fruits:

  • Any variety of canned fruits, including applesauce, juice pack or water pack without added sugars, fats, oils or salt
  • Fruit must be listed as the first ingredient

Canned Vegetables:

  • Any variety of canned or frozen vegetables without added sugars, fats or oils
  • Vegetable must be listed as the first ingredient
  • May be regular or lower in sodium

The full South Carolina WIC Food Guide may be found here.

WIC Honors National Farmers Market Week

DHEC’s Division of WIC Services joined markets across the country to celebrate National Farmers Market Week during the week of August 6-12.

As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer.

Markets benefit farmers and customers

According to statistics recently released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products. This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.

“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming healthy, prosperous food systems,” says Jen Cheek, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Farmers are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”

Providing access to fresh fruits and veggies

The WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly known as WIC. The WIC Program provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education at no cost to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding post-partum women, and to infants and children up to 5 years of age who are found to be at nutritional risk.

The WIC FMNP was established by Congress in 1992, to provide fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to WIC participants, and to expand the awareness, use of, and sales at farmers’ markets. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the program!

During summer months, select public health departments participate in the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The SC WIC FMNP has 249 authorized farmers.  DHEC and the S.C. Department of Agriculture encourage you to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. WIC participants receive checks that may be used for fresh produce at approved local farmers markets and farm stands. Participants also learn how to choose, store, and prepare fresh produce by attending nutrition education classes.  WIC Farmers’ Market checks may be used to purchase SC-grown, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

New recipes and farmers markets

Ready to try some delicious new recipes for your farmers market fresh fruits and vegetables?

Searching for a South Carolina farmers market?  Click here.

Mother and baby benefit greatly from breastfeeding

By Ellen B. Babb, PhD, MPH, RD, LD, CLC
WIC State Breastfeeding Coordinator
DHEC Division of WIC Services

Just how beneficial is breastfeeding for mothers and babies? Let us count the ways.

  • Human milk provides the ideal balance of nutrients for an infant’s growth and development.
  • Human milk is easy to digest and protects babies from diarrhea and other stomach issues.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS, as well as infectious and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
  • Breastfeeding saves money.
  • Breastfeeding provides a unique bonding experience for mother and baby.

Considering all those benefits — and there are more — is it any wonder that pediatricians and other health officials encourage mothers to breastfeed?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.

World Breastfeeding Week

We cannot overstate the value of breastfeeding, which is why August 1 – 7 is set aside as World Breastfeeding Week. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages all expectant and new mothers to know the facts about the important health benefits of breastfeeding.

In South Carolina, 73 percent of babies have been breastfed for some period of time, 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at six months, and 14 percent are breastfeeding in some capacity at 12 months. Among all WIC mothers in South Carolina, 24 percent of children under age 1 are being breastfed.

WIC Supports Breastfeeding Moms and Babies

Many times moms and babies need assistance to get the most out of breastfeeding. That’s where DHEC’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program comes in; we have supportive breastfeeding staff, which includes breastfeeding peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, ready to help.

WIC provides resources and services such as:

  • Breastfeeding education materials
  • Enhanced breastfeeding food packages
  • Breastfeeding support groups (Circle of Friends)
  • “How to Breastfeed” classes
  • Breast pumps and supplies

One of the best ways to get a good start breastfeeding after giving birth is to have your baby at a Baby-Friendly Hospital, where mothers are given optimum support to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies safely. To view a listing of South Carolina hospitals that have received this designation, please click here.

The success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, health care leaders and employers.

For more general information about breastfeeding, click here. For information about how WIC can help with breastfeeding, please click here.