Providing nutritional information and support, Fort Stewart’s Women, Infant and Children program helps Third Infantry Division Families maintain a healthy standard of living. The Family centered qualifying program works to dispel any negative stigma and safeguard the health of women, infants and children who may be at a nutritional risk.
“There is power in nutrition,” said Pat Mobley, nutrition manager and registered dietician. “If you eat healthy, you can ward off heart disease and other ailments … so we want to make sure they [clients] are eating healthy.”
Clients new to WIC, provide qualifying documentation prior to seeing a nurse or nutritionist to conduct a nutritional assessment.
“We have them complete a questionnaire about their eating habits … to determine any cause for concern,” Mobley said. “We all have nutritional needs and none of us eat perfect. During the assessment, we also pick up on any weight issues and if the pregnant mom’s iron is low. After that, it’s a client centered program. We meet the needs of the client through education.”
The program serves 3rd ID Families who are at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level based on Family size, according to Mobley who actively works to dispel any negative stigma with the program. Georgia’s current income eligible guideline is $41,348 for a Family of four. “It’s not a poverty program, but a low income program and lots of people would be surprised if they looked at the guidelines.”
Mobley added, “It’s not a negative to say that I’m on WIC, it should be a positive because we want our clients to eat healthy.”
At the foundation of WIC is the relationship-based support program for new moms that encourage breastfeeding and proper nutrition with prenatal visits.
“Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to the baby but also for the mother,” Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and mother Christina Moore. “Breastfeed babies are healthier, have less ear infections and colds. For the mom, breastfeeding helps to prevent breast and cervical cancer … breastfeeding helps with less waste and it’s free.”
Moore believes that lack of exposure to breastfeeding might be why some moms may choose not to breastfeed; however the program attempts to make it the norm by offering support and education.
“I had issues in the beginning and I did not have any support,” explained Moore. So I came to WIC and asked about breastfeeding and they referred me to a lactation consultant. She helped me overcome my problems and offered support and information.”
Breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months is the recommendation that WIC follows. In addition, the program offers a breast pump loan program to moms returning to work, school, or those who may be separated for medical reasons after giving birth.
“That is what the peer counselor program is,” Moore said. “Moms that are expecting and have children are looking for other moms who know what they are going through. The WIC peer counseling program is mother to mother support. I’m just a mom on WIC helping other moms on WIC.”
Much of the support given is anticipatory guidance while the mom is expecting.
Moore explained, “Here is what you can expect and how you can overcome those issues. It could be the baby won’t latch or the mom saying ‘I’m not making enough milk. Problems don’t arise between 8 and 5 and that is what I’m here for.”
The program’s logo is ‘Love and support make breastfeeding work’ and participants meet monthly at Army Community Services on Fort Stewart for continued support and education.
Working in concert with nutrition information and tips, WIC clients can receive food vouchers to purchase healthy foods at more than 1,600 acceptable food stores.
Georgia residents to include Soldiers stationed at Stewart-Hunter and meet the income guidelines can apply for Georgia WIC by calling 800-228-9173. The Fort Stewart WIC office is located at building 1183 and appointments can be made at 855-262-7670.