Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials said today that increased benefits are now available to families through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as WIC.
"We want to ensure that WIC recipients and those who are eligible, but not yet enrolled for the program, are aware that benefits increased in October," said Kevin Moore, acting WIC Director for DPHHS. "This is great news because we know that with increases in food prices, times are tough for many families. The additional benefit will help families get the nutrition they need."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which funds WIC, increased the monthly benefit to buy more fruit and vegetables. Households will now receive $25 per month for children up to age five, $44 for those pregnant, postpartum, or partially breastfeeding, and $49 for those who are fully breastfeeding for fruits and vegetables. On average, this amounts to a monthly benefit increase of 37% for Montana families.
The last time the benefit amounts experienced this large of increase was in 2009.
"When I was first enrolled in WIC, program staff helped ensure my family had necessary information, such as proper nutrition and the benefits of breastfeeding," said former WIC recipient Whitney Fisher of Helena. "Program staff helped answer all questions gave us tools to be successful as parents. They just really helped relieve so much angst, and I can't thank them enough."
WIC in Montana includes 29 local agencies and over 80 clinic sites serving all 56 counties and seven tribal reservations. In Montana, almost 14,000 women, infants and children are enrolled. DPHHS and local WIC offices across the state encourage all those who are interested and possibly eligible for the program to apply.
WIC eligibility requires participants to be pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, or have a child younger than five. Participants must also meet income requirements-making less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Level or qualify for Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, or free/reduced school meal program. Specific WIC eligibility guidelines can be found on the DPHHS website.
WIC was created in 1974 to help families and young children during a critical time of growth and development. The program's benefits include providing families access to healthy food, breastfeeding education, referral to other health and social services, and much more. WIC is a voluntary program, and participation does not interfere with other programs such as SNAP or Medicaid.
To learn more about WIC or find out if you are eligible, go to http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/ecfsd/wic/index. Families can also reach out to your local WIC clinic or visit http://www.signupwic.com. The state office may be reached at 1-800-433-4298 or via email at [email protected].