Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd and USDA Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator Patricia Dombroski will visit the Mercer County WIC clinic in Trenton on Monday, at 11:00 am., to celebrate WIC's 40th anniversary. The visit will kickoff a week-long series of events to promote WIC benefits such as vouchers for fresh produce at farmers' markets, and nutrition and breastfeeding classes.
"For 40 years, WIC has supported moms by helping them give their children a healthy start," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "WIC promotes good nutrition and helps participants adopt healthy eating habits that last a lifetime."
WIC provides nutritious food to women, infants and children. More than 170,000 New Jersey women and children receive monthly vouchers for food that can be redeemed in more than 900 grocery stores statewide for healthy foods including milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, 100% juice, fruit and vegetables. New Jersey was one of the first 10 states in the nation to administer the WIC program.
Three events highlight the WIC campaign next week:
- Commissioner O'Dowd and USDA Food and Nutrition Service Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Patricia Dombroski will tour the Mercer County WIC Clinic at the Children's Home Society of New Jersey at 416 Bellevue Avenue in Trenton
- On Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher and Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Gloria Rodriguez will tour the University Hospital Auxiliary's Farmers' Market in Newark at 10 am at 12th Avenue between Bergen and Norfolk Streets. They will also visit the nearby Greater Newark Conservancy's Newark Youth Leadership Program's Youth Farmstand, located at 32 Prince Street, also in Newark.
- On Friday, Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito will visit a WIC breastfeeding class at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center WIC Program, 185 6th Avenue in Paterson. The event begins at 10 am.
June through November each year, WIC provides vouchers for participants to buy local produce from WIC authorized farmers' markets throughout New Jersey. Registered WIC dietitians and nutritionists provide participants with recipes and demonstrations of how to cook healthy produce.
WIC also encourages breastfeeding because of the nutritional benefits it offers infants, opportunities for increased bonding with newborns, reduced illnesses in a baby's first year and lower risk of obesity in adulthood. WIC also provides an enhanced food package to new mothers who exclusively breastfeed. Additionally, baby food is also provided after six months to infants who have been exclusively breastfed.
"WIC is an excellent program," said O'Dowd. "We need to reach more women and children in New Jersey who may be eligible and let pregnant women and mothers know they may qualify."
The Department estimates nearly 40,000 additional women and children may be eligible for the program.
WIC is open to pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding mothers and their children up to age five who meet the income guidelines and live in New Jersey.
WIC is available in all 21 New Jersey counties with more than 100 clinics.
To learn more about WIC visit http://www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/wic/wic_camp.shtml. Women can learn if they qualify for the program by calling their local WIC office to schedule an appointment, or call 1-800-328-3838 to find the nearest WIC office.