Burlington County continues to provide services to new and expectant mothers and young children.
The county health department’s Women Infants and Children (WIC) program reported that 3,400 women and children received its aid through February, an increase of about 15 percent compared with February 2022. Numbers rose to 3,516 last month.
WIC provides supplemental food, nutrition education, health-care referrals and other social services to income-eligible pregnant women, new mothers and children 5 and younger.
WIC households are in all parts of the county, including military families at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
WIC’s nutrition assistance helps with the purchase of foods rich in calcium, protein, iron and fiber. Enrolled clients receive their benefits electronically and redeem them with an eWIC card, which can be used like a debit card to purchase food from New Jersey stores and other authorized locations. The digital system was launched last year.
The county’s WIC program has also boosted support services for breastfeeding mothers and has an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant and three peer counselors on staff.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of a baby’s life by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. Research shows it provides infants with nutrition and supports healthy brain and immune system development.
WIC also collaborates with Virtua Health to raise awareness about lead exposure and how a healthy diet can mitigate some effects of exposure. The program collaborated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s SNAP-Ed program to host two online cooking classes.
As part of WIC, the county also distributes $30 farmers market vouchers that can be used to purchase fresh produce at the county agricultural center’s weekly Farmers Market in Moorestown and other participating farm stands. About $40,000 worth of vouchers were distributed to WIC enrollees last year.
“Burlington County is one of the healthiest places to live in America for a lot of reasons, and one of them is our WIC program and the great job they do educating new and expecting mothers to help them and their children get off to a healthy start,” said Commissioner Dan O’Connell, liaison to the county health department.
“The programs and support offered by WIC are completely free to eligible mothers and children, and we want to encourage as many residents as possible to take advantage of them.”
For more information about WIC, visit https://wic.nj.gov/participantportal/en/ or call (609) 267-4304.