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WIC honored in Franklin Co.

May 04, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A program that has helped feed mothers and young children in Franklin County for two decades is being honored this month by the County Commissioners.

The commissioners on Tuesday approved a proclamation declaring May Women, Infants and Children Month. The local WIC program serves 4,800 people a month, according to Maria Keyes, an outreach coordinator.

WIC will hold an open house at its offices at 450 Cleveland Ave. today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"Women, Infants and Children provides supplemental foods to women who are pregnant, breast feeding, postpartum mothers, infants and children up to the age of 5," according to Angie Peck, another outreach coordinator.

"We offer them nutrition information each time they visit our clinic," Peck said about WIC's clients. The program also offers pregnant women, mothers and children food to supplement their diets.


"They are given a voucher or check for a specific store," according to Peck. That voucher comes with a specific list of food items clients can buy, such as milk, eggs, cheese, dried peas or beans, cereals and juices, she said.

From June to September, families also get vouchers from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to purchase fruits and vegetables grown in Pennsylvania, Keyes said.

WIC has a staff of 22 registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nutritionists who meet with clients, providing information on how to fix healthy and flavorful meals, Keyes said.

Peck said WIC also has an office in Waynesboro, Pa., and satellite offices in Greencastle, Mercersburg and other communities where clients can meet with staff once a month.

To qualify for the program, participants must be residents of Franklin or Adams counties, meet income guidelines and be at "nutritional risk," Keyes said.

That can include a child who is underweight for its age or an expectant mother who is not getting proper nutrition, smokes or uses drugs and alcohol, Keyes said.

The income scale depends on the size of the family, Keyes said. For example, a family of four making less than $30,433 a year qualifies for the program.

Primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, WIC "is not a welfare program" but is aimed at low- to moderate-income families, Keyes said.

"I was involved in opening the first WIC office in Franklin County. In a former life I worked with SCCAP," Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said about the South Central Community Action Program, which administers WIC in the two counties.

WIC programs serve 265,000 people a month in Pennsylvania, according to the proclamation.

"Mothers are having healthier babies" because of WIC, Peck said.

Keyes said that means savings because of fewer visits to doctors and fewer work days lost by parents taking care of sick children.

"Healthy children learn better in school. ... Healthy children make a healthy community," said Commissioner Cheryl Plummer.

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