More Hawaii Families Eligible for Supplemental Nutrition
By Wendy Osher
More people in Hawai’i can qualify for assistance under the state’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC). The state implemented new eligibility guidelines on July 1, 2011, that expands the program’s ability to serve young families in Hawaii.
The federally-funded program provides residents with healthy foods, nutrition education, and health and social services referral when necessary.
“During these challenging economic times, this program provides two major boosts to Hawaii’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 serves an estimated 36,650 clients across the state. To be eligible for WIC, participants must either be women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or who have recently given birth; and children under the age of five who meet income guidelines and have a medical or nutritional risk.
Criteria guidelines on income and program benefits are posted on the WIC website at: http://hawaii.gov/health/family-child-health/wic/webdraft.html. Families may also call 808-586-8080 (or 1-888-820-6425 toll-free from neighbor islands) to inquire whether they qualify.
“We know that providing proper nutrition for our youngest keiki can prevent serious health problems later in life,” said Linda Chock, WIC Services Branch Chief. “Research shows pregnant women enrolled in WIC programs have longer pregnancies that lead to fewer premature births and reduce health risks for their babies,” she said.