The Woman, Infants and Children, or WIC, nutrition program in Utah announced that 71 percent of participants said they receive excellent services according to a recent participant survey.
WIC, a federal program, was launched in Utah in 1972. The program uses grocery store vouchers to help families with children under 5 buy nutritious foods. Families qualify for the program based on income. The program also provides breastfeeding classes, counseling, nutrition education and information on smoking.
While participants gave WIC high ratings, one-fourth of participants said they do not use all of the vouchers they are given. Chris Furner, director of the Utah WIC program, said the program will be working on educating families on how important it is to use all of the vouchers so they do not miss out on important nutrition.
“We expect (families) to purchase all of the foods,” Furner said.
WIC participants can tailor which vouchers they receive if they do not need them, Furner said.
“We don’t offer that first — they have to ask for it,” Furner said. “Sometimes you end up not using all of the benefits provided to you just because you can’t consume all of the product.”
The participant survey results also showed that 27 percent of WIC users said they receive good services, 97 percent are aware of the breastfeeding classes and 92 percent know that peer counselors to support breastfeeding mothers are available through WIC.
Alisa Jenkins, a mother of four children, has been using WIC for 12 years. She said she uses all of the vouchers she is given. When she first started using WIC, there were no vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables, but she is glad those products are now included, Jenkins said.
“It saves money to buy healthy food,” Jenkins said. “It makes sure that the kids get cereal and milk and other good foods.”
WIC vouchers can only be used at WIC-approved vendors, which include Wal-Mart, Smith’s and Macey’s.