ARE YOU ELIGIBLE
Call the clinic at 874-7384 for a pre-screening or to make an appointment. The WIC office is at the Sanford-Kimpton Health Department Building, 1005 W. Worley Street.

WIC AND FAMILIES
Columbia and Boone County have offered WIC services to children as old as 5, and pregnant, postnatal and breast-feeding women for about 30 years.

WHO PAYS FOR WIC
WIC's rising caseload has prompted the city, county and state to increase the amount of money each gives to the program for fiscal 2008.

HOW WIC WORKS
People interested in applying for WIC benefits must contact the Health Department to set up an appointment and have a pre-enrollment screening.

After feeding her 3-month-old daughter, Megan Wilkinson listens to Betty Archie, WIC nutrition counselor, discuss tactics for getting the family together at dinnertime. Wilkinson, with a background in the food industry, plans her meals a month in advance so she only has to shop a few times a month. The WIC program supplies Wilkinson with nine cans of formula a month. At around $14 a can, the WIC program is a significant help for mothers with infants using formula.

MORE THAN CHECKS

Although WIC's main focus is nutrition, it also provides classes on topics such as breast-feeding, food preparation and healthy consumption of foods.

"We are encouraging families to eat together," Ezzell said. "It's very important that kids see proper etiquette and behavior at least one meal a day."

Participants say the classes are among the most helpful services WIC provides. Kendra Miller, a breast-feeding peer counselor and recipient of WIC, said she appreciated the breast-feeding classes she took when she was pregnant with her now 20-month-old son, Christian.

"I don't think I would have breast-fed if I wasn't in the program," Miller said. "One woman, Susan, helped me in the program. The woman told me I should breast-feed ... and it saved me a lot of money."

WIC services are centered around the psychological, emotional and physical well-being of mothers and children. "We are constantly making referrals to other organizations," Harris said. "We try to get people connected to the resources they need." For example, Harris estimates 75 percent of WIC clients also receive food stamps.

WIC also refers people to places where they can get supplies, such as diapers, and services for older children, such as early educational classes. She refers lots of clients to Head Start.

The one major complaint that participants such as Rounds have about WIC is that fathers are not more involved. On the day of Rounds' appointment, there were only three men in the waiting room between 1 and 4 p.m. Rounds' husband was not among them.

"I'd like to see him encouraged to come to the appointments and take part," Rounds said. One of the few men who visited the WIC office that day was Anthony Prince, who stood in the waiting room nervously shifting around in his gray tank top. Standing next to his 2-year-old daughter, Averiona Reed, as she played in the waiting room with large Legos, he didn't stay in the same spot for more than two minutes. He stood out in a room full of women and young children.

Even though Prince has three daughters in WIC, he knows little about it except what he learns from his pregnant girlfriend, Brandy Reed, and from attending her bimonthly visits. He said the program, as well as the food stamps they receive, has helped him and his girlfriend while they've been unemployed.

"I know that it helps with milk, especially when you don't have funds," Prince said. "That's what I see most of — gallons and gallons of milk."

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