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WIC officials in Sunnyside urge mothers to sign up for free assistance programWIC officials in Sunnyside urge mothers to sign up for free assistance program

Officials from Yakima Neighborhood Health in Sunnyside want the public to know that the WIC program is alive and well and available to people but that some changes have occurred during the past year.

The WIC program is for women, infants and children, and helps supplement food and nutrition for pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children. Clients who qualify for WIC receive free food, nutrition education and referrals.

WIC is available to a family of two earning up to $2,247 a month. A family of four earning up to $3,400 a month qualifies and a family of six earning up to $4,553 a month can also receive benefits.

The program is for children up to the age of 5-years-old. Women who are pregnant, post-partum or are breastfeeding, are also eligible.

"We want to encourage people to use the program," said Mary Jo Mengarelli, public health administer at Yakima Neighborhood Health.

Women who are pregnant receive WIC checks monthly and are able to receive items such as milk, cereal, peanut butter, eggs, juice, cheese and whole grain choices, plus fruits and vegetables.

Women who choose not to breastfeed can stay on the program for six months after giving birth.

"Her nutritional status needs to be replenished," Mengarelli said.

Women who breastfeed can stay on the program for a year.

Besides the WIC checks available at Yakima Neighborhood Health, programs such as maternity support services are offered. A health care team of nurses, nutritionists, counselors, educators and case managers help clients prepare for the physical and family demands of pregnancy and caring for a new baby.

Breastfeeding support is also available. Certified lactation consultants offer support and services to breastfeeding mothers. Breast pumps are also available through a loaner program.

Yakima Neighborhood Health in Sunnyside is located at 617 Scoon Road.

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