The family unit is an important foundation to a healthy society, individuals receive love and support that nurture them to develop holistically to the benefit of society. Health and health care is one of the key building blocks for healthy family development. Programs such as the women, infants and children program (Ithaca New York WIC) provide numerous advantages for developing families, especially those deemed at risk.
WIC is a special program by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Pregnant and lactating women, women with children under 5 years of age receive a lifeline of supplemental nutrition assistance, health counselling and referrals to health and social services for free.
Women who receive the food packages are able to supplement their diet to satisfy dietary requirements for them and their children. The increased intake of key nutrients have resulted in very low instances of low birth weight for pregnant mothers. Additionally, more intake of key nutrients have helped in reducing nutritionally related birth defects in vulnerable mothers such as spina bifida, congenital heart disease, fetal alcohol syndrome.
Furthermore, agencies regularly tailor the food packages to address a specific existing health condition, this contributes to a proper management of the condition and at times even a cure. Moreover, proper supplementation such as the one provided by WIC has contributed to low incidences of premature birth or abortive pregnancies.
Moreover, vulnerable mothers are able to stretch their income through WIC, families are not immune to adverse economic conditions such a retrenchment; and the advantage of having a food package every month that includes children food is a life saver. It is well documented by health and social science researchers that a child that eats well develop much healthier than a child on a poor nutritional diet. Children from low income families don’t have to perform poorly at school and home because of poor diet, thanks to WIC. The total value of a monthly food package is estimated at $100, this is a huge saving for mothers.
WIC has educated many mothers on the importance of good nutrition and how to eat nutritionally. Mothers have free access to professional dietitians at no cost, sometimes this is administered on a one on one basis or group class settings. This education alone is worth is weight in gold because mothers are able to make correct choices when it comes to food and its preparation. Moreover, due to the encouragement and education in breast feeding, many babies have received the critical nutrients and disease fighting substances available through breast feeding at a critical juncture in their development.
Low income families usually suffer from other problems related to poor socio-economic conditions or living in such neighborhoods. The Akwesasne New York WIC program has a built in referral system that connect families to health and social services as needed. In addition to food, families are connected with counselors on issues such as smoking, drug addiction, early childhood development and so on. The intervention impact of these services have helped many families and their children to overcome potentially life threatening situations.
The WIC program can aptly be called a light in the darkness, the advantages and the intervention to the important family unit, at the critical phase, qualifies the program.