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Nutrition Program Making a Difference for Local Families During COVID

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. – Having proper nutrition is important, perhaps now more than ever, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start, Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services has overcome numerous barriers caused by the pandemic, including access to nutritious foods.

WIC, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (Spanish version), is a program for pregnant moms, babies, and young children to help reduce obesity and improve access to healthy foods. Traditionally, the program has provided on-site nutrition and breastfeeding education as part of the program, but for more than a year, these classes have been available online, along with phone counseling, as needed. In this way, WIC participants have access to their required nutrition education component online, in addition to receiving the monthly benefits to purchase food for their families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to make it more challenging for everyone to get much-needed resources, especially for those mothers who are pregnant or have young children,” said WIC Program Supervisor Kristi Shuping. “There are literally hundreds of families who could benefit from this program and the nutrition education and supplements it provides.”

WIC provides supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care and community resources to participants.

To reduce barriers to using the program over the past several years, WIC began issuing eWIC cards to replace the traditional paper vouchers and has worked with local farmers markets to allow WIC benefits to be used for fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

The WIC Program is available at the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services, 991 W. Hudson Blvd. You may apply for the WIC Program Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. All interested individuals are encouraged to call ahead to make an appointment or find out what will be needed for their first visit. Call 704-853-5100 to make an appointment or with questions.

To be eligible, a person must:

  • Be a pregnant woman; a breastfeeding woman who has had a baby in the last 12 months; a woman who has had a baby in the last six months; an infant; or a child up to the fifth birthday;
  • Reside in North Carolina and in the health deliver area of the WIC agency;
  • Meet the income eligibility scale – The gross annual household income cannot exceed 1855 of the Federal poverty income guidelines – All Medicaid, Food and Nutrition Services (SNAP) and Work First recipients meet the WIC eligibility criteria; and
  • Have an identified nutritional risk as determined by a health professional. Nutritional problems include anemia, poor growth, previous poor pregnancy outcome, inadequate dietary intake and other nutrition related health problems.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.