Crozer’s WIC Program Offers Enhancements, More Options
- Crozer-Chester Medical Center offers the federally funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program at three facilities: Chester, Springfield and Upper Darby.
- The Crozer WIC Program’s mission is to provide wholesome foods, nutrition education and services to eligible pregnant women, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to five years old. To be eligible, applicants must reside in Pennsylvania, meet income guidelines and be at nutritional risk.
- Enhancements to the program include new food packages, a call center, located at the Chester site, and renovations to the Upper Darby site. The call center can be reached at (610) 497-7660 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. A live attendant helps callers make WIC appointments, gives them basic information about the program, and tells them what information and documents to bring to their appointment.
- WIC provides other benefits to pregnant women and children to help keep them healthy for a lifetime.
Despite some industry experts saying that we are coming out of the economic downturn, certain facts paint a different picture. Unemployment is at its highest rate since the Great Depression, and as a result, many more people are turning to government-funded programs for help.
A report released Jan. 26, 2010 from the Food, Research and Action Center (FRAC) listed sections of Delaware County (First Congressional District) as being second in the nation for experiencing “food hardship,” a term that describes those who reported that there were times over the past year that they did not have enough money to buy food for themselves or their family.
Crozer-Chester Medical Center realizes that its community has varied needs and financial abilities. That is why we are pleased to offer the federally funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. In place at Crozer for 32 years (shortly after the program’s inception) WIC is a trusted and much-needed resource for moderate- to low-income families.
With three locations serving Delaware County (Upper Darby, Springfield and Chester), the Crozer WIC Program’s mission is to provide wholesome foods, nutrition education and services to eligible pregnant women, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to five years old. To be eligible, applicants must reside in Pennsylvania, meet income guidelines and be at nutritional risk.
“Due to the current economy, many people are coming back to our program in addition to our new WIC clients,” says Filomena Ahlefeld, WIC program director for Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “We have an increased case load; and with our new call center, the enrollment process has become easier.”
Based at the Chester site, the call center can be reached at (610) 497-7660 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. A live attendant helps callers make WIC appointments, gives them basic information about the program, and tells them what information and documents to bring to their appointment. This helps the applicant move through the WIC process faster and easier when they arrive, and frees up staff to assist clients when they arrive at the center for their appointment.
In addition to the new call center, the Upper Darby site recently expanded. Housed at 1 State Road, the office space was renovated and expanded from one to four patient rooms — allowing staff to serve a greater number of clients in a more efficient manner.
Finally, Ahlefeld is probably most excited about the new food package that WIC now offers clients. “The new food package was unveiled by the USDA on October 1, 2009,” she says. “This is exciting because this package has changed on only one other occasion since the program’s inception.”
The new food package aims to improve promotion and support of long-term breastfeeding, provide a wider variety of food, accommodate cultural food preferences, and improve services to medically fragile participants. Under the new guidelines, WIC participants can use their vouchers to purchase whole grains, soy milk, tofu, fresh fruits and vegetables, jarred baby foods, canned beans, and pink salmon or sardines, in addition to the foods WIC is known for — such as eggs, milk, cereal, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice, peanut butter, dry beans and tuna.
By providing nutritious foods, nutrition education and referrals, WIC has been able to accomplish the following:
- Reduce fetal deaths and infant mortality.
- Reduce low birthweight rates and increasing the duration of pregnancy.
- Improve the growth of nutritionally at-risk infants and children.
- Decrease the incidence of iron deficiency anemia in children.
- Improve the dietary intake of pregnant and postpartum women and improve weight gain in pregnant women.
- Help get children ready to start school. Children who receive WIC benefits demonstrate improved intellectual development.
- Significantly improve children’s diets.
New moms face many decisions about how to best care for their children. Food insecurity can threaten normal growth and development of infants and children and their ability to go on to lead productive lives. Crozer-Chester Medical Center’s WIC Program is helping to meet the needs of new moms and young families all over Delaware County. For more information or eligibility requirements, call Ahlefeld at (610) 497-7668.