Nutrition for moms, babies prompts Vermilion County expansion

A new Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) supplemental nutrition site is bringing access to Hoopeston residents. Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center will work side-by-side with WIC to deliver breastfeeding support, health-care referrals, nutrition education and more to eligible groups. Eligible groups include pregnant and postpartum women and children up to the age of 5.

“Many Hoopeston residents have to travel to Danville. This eases some of the transportation and scheduling problems that clients in northern Vermilion County face when seeking services,” said Kim Galloway, director of Hospital Operations, Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center.

The clinic at Carle Hoopeston will be open on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., with a 30-minute break at noon. No appointments are necessary. WIC services will continue to be offered on Tuesdays at the health department.

WIC opening in Hoopeston shifts the focus to proactive instead of reactive.

“About half of the babies born in Vermilion County are born to WIC-eligible moms,” said Cheryl Sprague, the WIC Program Supervisor.

A family of four with a gross annual income of up to $45,510 meets the income guidelines to receive services, and there are many who are eligible are not currently receiving benefits. With increased awareness at the Hoopeston site, that can change.

Along with boosting nutrition, mothers who participate in the WIC program are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and to breastfeed longer. WIC provides iron-fortified formula for infants of mothers who choose to not breastfeed.

Karima Isberg, Carle lactation consultant, worked at WIC in Champaign as a peer counselor for three years seeing firsthand the positive impact for new moms and babies.

The program emphasizing fruits, vegetables and grains has been proven to show positive changes in children’s diet and reductions in childhood obesity. Vouchers can be redeemed at grocery stores and local farmers’ market.

“It ensures moms and their children are adequately nourished. This can include formula, though moms who breastfeed get a larger package of food, instead of formula,” Isberg said.

The site is full-service, so clients will be able to sign up for WIC, transfer their WIC participation to Vermilion County, receive their initial or annual certifications, attend classes, and have food vouchers printed for them. 

WIC provides parent support and education, too.

Peer-to-peer support through classes, support groups, in-clinic visits and home visits make them an ideal partner.

Carle is pursuing a Baby Friendly hospital designation, and its Hoopeston branch expects to work closely with WIC to provide the best mother/baby care practices possible.