Healthy moms are a key component to ensuring healthy babies, but for some expectant women that’s a difficult task due to income instability or even lack of access to health care and nutritious food.
These social determinants of health can impact how an expectant mom takes care of herself, and they can continue as she tries to feed and raise her children with these unyielding burdens.
Fortunately, many women and children in these situations are eligible for help through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly known as WIC.
It’s designed for low-income, pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age 5 who are determined to be at nutritional risk by a health professional.
Much of the assistance comes in the form of vouchers that participants can use in local grocery stores for milk, infant cereal, produce, and other healthy foods. WIC also provides vouchers for local farmers markets. It promotes breastfeeding infants but can help with formula purchases as well.
The program also provides nutrition education, counseling, screening, and referrals to other health, welfare, and social services.
WIC is not an entitlement program. Congress does not set aside funds for every eligible person. It’s a federal grant program for which Congress authorizes a specific amount of money each year.
Environmental and social factors can seriously hamper a family’s ability to be healthy and stay healthy. Five key areas have been identified as the social determinants of our health.
Social and Community Context
Health and Health Care
Neighborhood and Built Environment
The WIC program gives many families and communities the tools to fight challenging social determinants of health and create sustainable, healthy lifestyles.