Women, Infants, & Children Program

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Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) is a federally funded program that provides people with nutritious foods, nutrition education, and referrals. WIC serves pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, and infants and children under age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. Rose Pizarro, Nutrition Assistant from WIC, talks about the program services.

José Cárdenas:
The women, infants and children program known as W.I.C. is a federal really funded program that gives people nutrition education, nutritious foods, and healthcare referrals. Recently, Richard Ruelas had the opportunity to talk to a W.I.C. nutrition coordinator on "Horizonte" about the program.

Richard Ruelas:
Rose Pizarro thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." You're the nutrition coordinator for W.I.C. I guess we can start with the basics. What is W.I.C.?

Rose Pizarro:
W.I.C. stands for Women, Infants, Children and it is a food and a health program. It's for pregnant women, for breastfeeding moms --

Richard Ruelas:
And if you have a child under the age of five or you're pregnant or have an infant you can qualify for the program?

Rose Pizarro:
That's correct.

Richard Ruelas:
And if you do qualify, what do you get?

Rose Pizarro:
You get a food package for the children. Milk, cheese, and we're introducing our new food package and that's October of this year.

Richard Ruelas:
The food packages, do you get -- can you get one a week? How often?

Rose Pizarro:
Monthly.

Richard Ruelas:
It's monthly?

Rose Pizarro:
And you get three months in advance.

Richard Ruelas:
And we can imagine there's higher demand because of the state of the economy and people who probably never had to think of a social service agency are looking at doing this. You mentioned in October there's some new foods that people might find in these boxes.

Rose Pizarro:
Exactly, and we're excited to say that fruits and vegetables are going to be introduced to the package.

Richard Ruelas:
There were no fruits and vegetables before?

Rose Pizarro:
No. And that's why we're so excited.

Richard Ruelas:
Were there canned vegetables before?

Rose Pizarro:
No, I'll tell you what it was before. Before it was the milk, the cheese, the cereal, the peanut butter and cereal and juice. What's new is tofu, soy milk, fruits and vegetables and we're excited about our totally breastfeeding moms, they get a little bit of everything. They get -- they would be the ones who get the most in their package. And infants are also getting fruits and vegetables as well. Once they reach six months, and if they're fully breastfeeding babies, they get extra meat. That would be for infant food.

Richard Ruelas:
This may lead down another path. I had no idea that the food boxes would not contain fruits and vegetables. Are they fresh?

Rose Pizarro:
Yes, it is fresh.

Richard Ruelas:
Wow. Where is the state getting it? Local farmers?

Rose Pizarro:
That, I'm not so sure.

Richard Ruelas:
It's great that -- again, that's a staple. So it's important.

Rose Pizarro:
All of our parents are very excited. For the past two months, I've been introducing it to my classes and letting them know and giving them a quick peek so they know what's going to happen and they're mostly excited about the fruits and vegetables.

Richard Ruelas:
I would hope so. What was the idea behind introducing like you mentioned tofu?

Rose Pizarro:
Tofu, because again, we want to be more sensitive to Latino and Asian population and we have a lot of people who might be lactose intolerant and can't tolerate milk and so we have substitution available.

Richard Ruelas:
Are there things for Latinos?

Rose Pizarro:
Corn tortilla. They have the choice between bread or the corn tortillas.

Richard Ruelas:
I'm thinking of tofu, which I know is good on the grill. I just discovered that recently. A lot of people might not know what to do with tofu.

Rose Pizarro:
With W.I.C., we're a nutritional program so that means our clients attend nutritional classes and we give them tips how to cook.

Richard Ruelas:
You mentioned a program involving breastfeeding mothers.

Rose Pizarro:
That's correct.

Richard Ruelas:
What services?

Rose Pizarro:
We have a new program. Peer councilor. And they do one-on-one nutrition with breastfeeding moms and pregnant moms who guide them through the breastfeeding.

Richard Ruelas:
And there might be a cultural resistance among the Latino community to asking and seeking help about breastfeeding, thinking it's sort of a natural thing.

Rose Pizarro:
Exactly. Mainly what we see, a lot of times, we see moms think they have to go toward formula because they have to go back to work and they don't have a choice. But we provide the pumps and one-on-one nutrition counseling so we're there to guide them and let them know it doesn't necessarily have to be the formula, knowing the benefits of breastfeeding. And teaching again, that there's the option. You can go to work --

Richard Ruelas:
Exactly.

Rose Pizarro:
-- and use the pump, exactly.

Richard Ruelas:
Ok. And are there special nutritional concerns for breastfeeding mothers?

Rose Pizarro:
They get extra of everything. For instance, they would be the ones who would get -- I'll give you an example. Somebody else might get one dozen eggs, and they would get two dozen. So they get double of everything.

Richard Ruelas:
What do you see the importance of the program being? What happens if this program isn't around? How important is it do you see for the women, infants and children to be able to get good nutrition provided to them?

Rose Pizarro:
It's very important. We see that a lot.

Richard Ruelas:
Oh, no, no, you were talking about how important it is to get the food to these people.

Rose Pizarro:
Uh-huh.

Richard Ruelas:
What happens if they don't get that nutrition?

Rose Pizarro:
There's really nowhere else for them to get it. So it is very important for them to get it through W.I.C.

Richard Ruelas:
And the website, the phone number is up. The website is?

Rose Pizarro:
W.I.C. -- Maricopa County.gov/public health community.

Richard Ruelas:
Great. I appreciate you coming down and we hope that the economic woes ease on both the state and the community at large. And there's a lot of people who are glad that W.I.C. is available to help them out.

Rose Pizarro:
And we're glad to be there.

Richard Ruelas:
Rose Pizarro, thanks for being here.

Rose Pizarro:Nutrition Assistant,Women, Infants, & Children (WIC);

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