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Benefits increase for woman and children in need through WIC program

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – A division of the Virginia Department of Health, WIC, also known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, helps educate pregnant women, mothers, and children under five years old, and provide them with healthy foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

“There are many different families that really don’t know about WIC,” says supervisor Kathy Thompson.

“Policeman, firemen, teachers, it’s not just the lowest of the lowest (income), it’s middle-class people that have lost a job, and that’s why we’re concerned now because of the pandemic and a lot of people had lost their job,” explains Thompson. “It’s a safety net program because we want families to be healthy.”

With the extra money from the federal government’s COVID-19 relief programs, WIC’s EBT cardholders, separate from SNAP, can now buy nearly triple the produce this summer.

The temporary increase of benefits will be available until the end of September.

“A mother and child from age one to five are going to get $35 of fresh fruits and vegetables each. I had a family yesterday that had a mother who was pregnant and had two kids. She’s got a $105 of fruits and vegetables for that month,” says Thompson.

This compares to the $11 per woman and $9 per child in previous months.

Lisa Uhl, Director of Marketing and Communications for Feeding Southwest Virginia, says their organization is also reaching out to aid those struggling with food insecurity through their mobile marketplace.

“We can get reduced-cost food and grocery items so they’ll be able to stretch their benefits further when they purchase food from our mobile marketplace,” says Uhl.

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