The Phelps-Maries County Health Department will continue to provide WIC services for federal fiscal year 2020.

Under the terms of the department's contract with Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services, the department will be able to serve 1,019 persons eligible for WIC every month.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a special supplemental nutrition program providing services to pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children up to five years old based on nutritional risk and income eligibility.

Health screening, risk assessment, nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding promotion and referrals to health care are the program's primary services. Nutritious supplemental food is provided at no cost to participants. Applicants must have an income of less than or equal to 185 percent of the poverty level and be determined by a health professional to be at nutritional risk to be eligible for WIC. Migrant families are also eligible.

WIC supplemental food packages are specially chosen to provide foods high in protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C, according to the Phelps-Maries County Health Department on Thursday. Eligible women and children receive fortified milk, milk substitutes, cheese, yogurt, eggs, beans, peanut butter, whole grain products and hot or cold cereals, 100 percent fruit juices and fresh or frozen vegetables.

The WIC program recommends breastfeeding, provides breastfeeding support, baby foods and infant cereal. For women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed, infants may receive supplemental iron fortified formula. WIC participants obtain their foods by redeeming food checks for specific items at local grocery stores and pharmacies.

Studies confirm that pregnant women who enroll in WIC during the early months of pregnancy have fewer low birth weight babies, experience fewer infant deaths, see the doctor earlier in pregnancy and eat healthier, according to the Phelps-Maries County Health Department.

The department administers WIC in Phelps and Maries counties. Individuals interested in applying or are in need of more information should contact the Phelps-Maries County Health Department at 573-458-6010 or 1-800-301-4942.