In the past week, the airwaves and blogosphere have been inundated with new research, graphic images, and passionate and often conflicting opinions regarding approaches to parenting, breastfeeding and obesity prevention. Since these are core issues for WIC, thoughtful practitioners may be asking themselves how WIC fits into the national conversation.
WIC is unique as a place-based intervention with deep roots in almost every low-income community. And WIC Works! Healthy WIC foods have improved food access for participants, as well as the grocery landscape for all shoppers. At the same time, WIC’s direct nutrition services shape and change individual behaviors. Evidence shows that our counseling and classes, coordinated health messaging, and peer-to-peer breastfeeding support improve healthy eating habits and lower obesity rates.
The WIC miracle starts with sitting down, in well-worn and often gritty clinics, face-to-face and listening to what parents need. It involves accepting each mother (or dad!) for who s/he is, and providing accurate information and a large toolbox to best equip parents for all the many challenges and decisions they’ll face. Our Platinum service approach emphasizes the importance of honoring these decisions and empowering families to carry them out. With that base of trust and respect, WIC parents know they can reach out to WIC staff when they need to.
WIC families are eating healthier foods, breastfeeding is up and obesity is declining. What do moms have to say? They say the healthy foods are what their family needs, the WIC staff and breastfeeding peer counselors help them with their breastfeeding goals, and they now have a better understanding of how to read their baby’s cues.
Whatever the media hype and parenting punditry, WIC keeps the focus on our common, daily goal: healthy and happy parents, babies and communities. WIC is on the right track! Stay the course!