Dalton (GA) May 8, 2012 -Graduates of local schools are now giving back to their community with essential services that are available to thousands in Whitfield County, many of whom take advantage of these services. . . many more are eligible.
Addie Crum, 2005 graduate of Christian Heritage School, Maria Pimentel, 2006 graduate of Dalton High School, and 2007 Dalton High School graduate, Hannah Michaels, are all working through the local Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program to assist in supplementing the nutritional needs of young mothers and children.
WIC serves 7,000 young mothers and children in Whitfield County, and funds are available to provide services to many others.
Established in 1972, WIC began to provide supplemental foods to preschool children whose diets, as shown through studies, tend to be low in iron, calcium, vitamin C and protein.
On the local level, 67% of the kindergarten children in the Whitfield County and Dalton Public School systems participated in the WIC program at some point prior to their fifth birthday.
Families with children under age five are eligible for WIC by meeting liberal income guidelines. In fact, a family of four can make as much as $19.87 an hour, or $41,348 annually, and receive WIC services. Applicants are asked to bring a current pay stub from each working member of the household or the previous year's 1040 to qualify.
Plus, all families with preschool children that are currently enrolled in the Food Stamp program are eligible for WIC. WIC benefits are given in addition to their food stamp allotment and it does not reduce their monthly Food Stamp benefits. In fact, WIC benefits help a family extend their Food Stamp benefits by providing fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, milk, cereal, eggs, peanut butter and juice.
Moreover, all preschool children and pregnant women receiving Medicaid are eligible for WIC benefits.
Ms. Crum said part of her job as a WIC nutritionist is to conduct nutrition assessments for preschool children, including measuring a child's height, weight and hemoglobin. "I also help moms plan healthy meals and snacks for their children, as well as encourage physical activity such as bringing their children to the new community center to participate in the opportunities for family activity," Ms. Crum added.
"There's a mom we've been instructing on good nutrition and exercise," said Ms. Michaels, also a WIC nutritionist, "and she has lost 21 pounds by daily using the community center walking track with her once overweight three-year-old. Her child's weight is now within a healthy range. That's what makes this such a rewarding job; I actually see the progress we're making with our clients."
Ms. Pimentel is the friendly, familiar face that greets all new WIC applicants and current participants at the WIC clinic in the Gaston Community Center. As a bi-lingual WIC clerk, she is not only a wealth of information on current WIC resources, but she also provides assistance to the nutritionists for non-English speaking clients. "I love my job and the difference we're making in the lives of these mothers and young children," said Ms. Pimentel.
To apply for WIC benefits, call 1-866-942-9675 or just come by one of the WIC clinics located in the Whitfield County Health Department at 800 Professional Boulevard in Dalton and in the Gaston Community Center at 214 N. Fredrick Street in Dalton.
Hours of operation for both WIC clinics are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and for convenience to the public, the Whitfield County Health Department clinic is open for extended hours each Tuesday until 7 p.m. The community center clinic is also open on Fridays from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.
More information about local WIC services is available at http://www.northgawic.com/.