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More food choices for new mothers and their children

Posted by Brian Benson  November 3, 2009 04:08 PM

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The following is a press release from Cambridge Health Alliance:

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has introduced a new food package emphasizing healthy eating. It is the most substantial change since the WIC program’s inception over 30 years ago.

Since 1974, WIC has provided nutrition counseling, breastfeeding support, referrals to health and social services, and checks to receive free healthy foods for eligible families. WIC’s goal is to keep children under five and pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women healthy.

The new food package offers participants greater variety and more culturally appropriate foods. In addition to the staple WIC foods (milk, cheese, eggs, cereals, peanut butter, and juice), fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, and dairy food substitutes (with medical necessity) have been added. Additionally, WIC now requires vendors to provide a minimum of two fresh fruit and vegetable choices in their stores in order to be approved for the program.

The changes provide a platform for healthy eating habits, which is reinforced by the WIC program’s nutrition education goals and messages provided by WIC nutritionists. These goals include improving the quality of families’ diets, preventing obesity, and promoting breastfeeding.

“I'm very encouraged to learn of these latest changes in the food choices offered by WIC, and pleased to see that the principles of Shape Up Somerville continue to extend further into the daily lives of residents in our community,” said Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “This is yet one more great step to curbing childhood obesity nationwide.”

The modifications to the WIC food package, based on the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations, reinforce the current US Dietary Guidelines of Americans and Infant Feeding Guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and should result in improved diets for WIC participants. 

The Cambridge/Somerville WIC Program, housed at Cambridge Health Alliance, serves 5,400 participants in Cambridge, Somerville, and the surrounding areas. WIC staff members speak Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Mandarin. To find out if you are eligible for WIC, please call the Cambridge/Somerville WIC Program at 617-666-5059 or 617-665-3750 or visit http://www.challiance.org/comm_affairs/wic_program.shtml.

Cambridge Health Alliance is an innovative, award-winning health system that provides high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, the Cambridge Public Health Dept., and the Network Health plan. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine. Visit us online at www.challiance.org.

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