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Changing the WIC program to increase BF rates

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Sorry, this is really long, but it is very important to me because breastfeeding rates among women on WIC are about 10% lower than the average population. I'm looking for help/ideas to increase the rates of breastfeeding to keep up with the national average, or at least within 2-3% of average.

I had a WIC appointment today, and I was talking with the lady about changing the program to increase BF rates. I have been avoiding dairy for the past 3 days or so because DD2 is super gassy and has a rash, so I'm eliminating for a few weeks to see if she improves. I mentioned that WIC has waaaay too much dairy and not enough fruits and vegetables (only carrots for BF women, and no fruits and veggies otherwise unless you count frozen juice concentrate, although they do give out farmer's market checks every summer, for my family the checks are for $40), and was wondering if the rumored changes of WIC to add soy milk and less dairy are ever going to happen. She told me not in the near future because the current nutrition program is good through 2009.

If another mother were to determine that she needed to eliminate dairy from her diet for her nursling's benefit, she may decide to simply switch to formula because elimination diets are hard, and on WIC you get so much dairy that you would have to start spending more money on food you would otherwise not have to buy. So why not just switch to soy formula or hypoalergenic formula on WIC? It's expensive to buy soy milk, and it is difficult to eliminate dairy from your diet, especially if WIC provides you with tons of free dairy. So why bother?

Here's a breakdown of what we get per month on WIC. This is for me EBF my DD, and for my almost-2 year old toddler.

10 gallons of milk
5 pounds of cheese
2 jars of peanut butter or two pounds of dried beans
1 additional pound of dried beans
4 dozen eggs
2 pounds of carrots
4 cans of tuna
4 boxes of cereal
10 frozen juices

Since DH is allergic to dairy and I am eliminating dairy from my diet, we really only need about 1 gallon of milk and one pound of cheese per month. We also don't need nearly so many eggs, maybe 2 dozen a month would be plenty. We drink the juice and eat about half the cereal each month, and the carrots and tuna are all eaten. I have about six jars of peanut butter in my cabinet right now, so I'll probably switch to getting dried beans for a couple of months, but even then we don't eat those very much (I much prefer canned beans for conveinence reasons).

So, I was thinking, I have experience with WIC on the financial end of it with working in contracts. The agency that I am employed with produces contracts for WIC that about 15 states use. Those contracts are for formula and breastpumps. The formula is a major part of the WIC program. WIC sends in rebates for the formula and recovers approximately 95% of the cost of the formula. Contracts are extremely important for the WIC program.

So why not make a contract with Dole for canned fruits, or with Birdseye for frozen vegetables? They're still premeasured (something that WIC really likes) and national companies so they could easily get rebate contracts for those items. Plus it would make the BF diet more attractive and easier for elimination dieters to afford groceries.

The USDA heads up the WIC program, and the current food items are in place until 2009. I was thinking we could start contacting people in our states and the USDA for major changes in the WIC program making the BF package more attractive which hopefully would start increasing the BF rates of moms on WIC. I have a friend who works for USDA. She doesn't work in the program we would need a contact in, but she is a regional manager and I'm sure she can give me names, phone numbers and email addresses. And maybe she has some influence, since she is senior management and has been with USDA for over 20 years. I'm going to start figuring out what I need to do to let WIC know that major changes need to take place, but I need help. If one person calls, it's easy to ignore. If 100 people call, it's a lot more persuasive.

So I'm pretty new to this type of thing, but I figure I'm probably a pretty good person to head this up because I have experience with WIC contracts and I have a friend at the USDA. But I don't really know where to start. Should I propose a nutrition program to the USDA, and encourage them to make contracts for fruits and vegetables? Is anyone a nutrition expert or has worked with the WIC program that could help me to write up a new nutrition program, or do you have suggestions on what WIC should be providing? Should I start with the state Department of Health first, or go directly to the USDA? Or should I contact local representitives instead?

Anyway, suggestions and help would be appreciated. I am going to try to work on this now while I'm on maternity leave, because I won't have as much time when (if) I go back to work.
post #2 of 34
DH and i were just talking about this today. I do not receive WIC or clai to know much about it but it seems ridiculous that they supply a baby's formula!!!
There has got to be a way to make WIC aiimed towards breastfeeding somehow such as $$$ in place of formula if you are bf'ing.
post #3 of 34
Originally Posted by lacysmommy
10 gallons of milk
5 pounds of cheese
2 jars of peanut butter or two pounds of dried beans
1 additional pound of dried beans
4 dozen eggs
2 pounds of carrots
4 cans of tuna
4 boxes of cereal
10 frozen juices
I haven't finished your post but Holy crappin dog biscuits they give you 10 gallons of milk for 4 people a month!!!!! WTH? How much friggin milk can one person drink? Sorry but a gallon and a half of milk lasts my family of three for two months. That is just insane! Sorry I will continue with reading your post.

Ok so I did the math and that is only 5 cups a day which I guess isn't really that much.
post #4 of 34
Hey, I'm on board, though I'm not sure what you need done. I always hated that they gave so much milk (no one here DRINKS milk!!). We do eat a lot of cheese, but still. I think vegies are incredibly important in the diet of pregnant/nursing moms and young children. I wish they'd give you the choice of fruit over the juice. Canned/frozen fruit, maybe? What would need to happen to help facilitate a contract?
post #5 of 34
What if you brought in a note from your doctor or your baby's ped stating that you had to have a dairy free diet? Would you be eligible for different foods? Not everyone can eat dairy. What if you are allergic to peanuts? I'm sure there's a substitute for that.
post #6 of 34
Yeah what about lactose intollerent people or peopel allergic to milk?? And fruits and veggies are way more important to children than dairy. How do they expect them to raise healthy kids without the vit C, A and the calcium and folic acid provided in veggies and fruits not to mention the fiber (okay they can get fiber from the beans) that kids need to be healthy. See adn that is just another example of short sided politics. I mean the health issues we have in store for the future. I see saturated fats and high cholesterol. Fruit juices and cheese and peanut butter. Sugar and saturated fats. And say what about the obesity rates in children????
post #7 of 34
iD call or email someone too if you need volunteers....WIC gives tooooo many eggs
post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 
No, you can't get a doctor's note to substitute certain items on the WIC checks. Those are the only items you can get. You can get lactaid milk, but that doesn't help people who are allergic to dairy proteins. You can get beans instead of peanut butter. But other than that, there are no alternative items you can get.
post #9 of 34
Ok I have been thinking about this. I think the problem you have is deeper. We don't give supplementary milks to DD and in order to get her to not have them at daycare they said I needed a note from her doctor because the USDA requires certian amounts of dairy or soy milk. I think they must get a massive kick back from the dairy industry. When I requested said note from my doctor she didn't want to write it because there is no medical reason to give a child cow or soy milk. Basically the letter said "mother has requested no soy or cow milk for her child please follow mothers personal guidelines for nutrition" or something to that effect. I think the battle you are looking to fight goes beyond WIC and has more to do with the Dairy industry than anything else.
post #10 of 34
i think that would be awesome if a change was made. I'd be all over helping too! I'm currently 'getting' on WIC to become a peer bfing councelor. When i went in for my first appt. i kinda ran into a bit of a brick wall when i said DD was BFing and we didn't do dairy (she's allergic to that and eggs). they kept pushign and pushing it on me. but if i take it, it'll go bad, no one i know drinks cow's milk, except my dad, adn mom's "weaning him" to soy milk. LOL.

but i was quite annoyed that they wanted me to 'give' her cow's milk, (and eggs), and that they don't offer alternatives as rice/soy/almond milk. the only thing they offered was goats milk but i need a dr.s note for that and....why do i want goat's milk?

they made my head:
post #11 of 34
and i ditto that i think the problem lies in 'how' they get the food and the contracts they have with the dairy industry and gov. 'farming grants' which are a joke too. I'm sure the gov. is buying this stuff from themselves, as our congress people have a lot invested in such industries...
post #12 of 34
I totally agree Im EBF on WIC and cant have dairy due to DD being to gassy so I give all of my milk and cheese away they really need to add more fruits and veggies for BF moms
post #13 of 34
In some states you can get goat milk with a doctor's note, but afaik you can't get soy or other non-animal milks.
post #14 of 34
We're on WIC, and the whole giving BFing moms carrots and canned tuna has always made me Maybe its because I'm a fish snob who loves sushi, but I think they could do way better than canned tuna. That stuff has unacceptable amounts of mercury and who knows what, so why on earth would I want that in my milk?? As for the eggs and milk and cheese, we're dairy addicts around here : It really has helped me though because I was pretty badly underweight at the beginning of this pregnancy and desperately needed the extra fat.

I also think WIC should cover organic items and omega-3 enriched/cage free eggs.
post #15 of 34
We don't do WIC because we don't drink that much milk (and dh loves milk!), we don't eat much eggs and dd is allergic to peanut butter, but loves it so if we have it in the house she'll try to eat it which leads to a dose of Benadryl and/or a hospital visit. If they gave more fruits and veggies, I'd be more apt to do it! As is a friend who gets it gives us her cereal because it's all sugary stuff that I don't mind feeding to my dh!
post #16 of 34
Here you can get organic milk but not eggs.
post #17 of 34
We are big dairy eaters over here too but not so much milk. We get the pk that has the least amount milk and more cheese becuase we eat it up but we still get a ridiculous amount of milk.. We don't use the juice or even a quarter of the cereal. I have stock piles of PB even though we do eat that a lot. Here in NH you are at least allowed to buy the Smucker's naturla PB or teddies natural PB. I also get infant cereal for KAe which I don't use. I have three kids under fice so we get a lot but I don't buy the juices at all and I Don't buy half the milk and use half of what I buy. I was really looking foward to the new WIC packages I am sad to hear it won't be till 2009
We get
21 cans of juice (holy crapass!!!)
2 boxes of infant cereal
108oz cereal
176 oz of cheese (and we eat it all. : )
8dz eggs (again we eat them all)
4 jars of PB
2lbs of carrots
4 cans of tuna
15 gallons of milk!!!
we drink maybe 3 sometimes 4 a month.
I really wish I could get less milk and get organic milk and free range eggs.I wish I could use my Wic checks at local farms for eggs also.

What are the breastfeding rates there and what are the averages? I noticed a board up at my local WIC office the other day. I believe it said only 63% at breastfed at birth and 26% at 6 months.I thought that was outrageous and incrediably sad.
post #18 of 34
Three of us are on WIC here. Me until November this year, dd until January 07 and ds for many more years. I honestly don't know how much of some stuff we get, but the milk and juice are just insane! We don't get the milk that is on the checks 99% of the time and the cashiers always ask me where the milk is. Both the kids have dairy problems. At this point dd can have some diary and is ok with it. She has no problems with cheese so we do get that some of that, but not all that we could get. I really wish they had an option of soy milk, but even then I don't think we would drink as much as they offer. I saw that some counties in FL do the farmer's market program, but not the one I live so no chance for fruits and veggies that way.

On the good side this county does have IBCLCs at all 3 offices. They do prenatal bf classes, but I don't know if they are required or just some extra that moms can do. We didn't go on WIC until after I had ds and I haven't asked about them. I know this office does have both Isis and Harmony hand pumps that they give to any mom that needs them. They also have some rentals. I'm not sure about electric pumps for working moms, but it would be great if they had those. I know that electric pump would be a huge expense to a mom going back to work when WIC would provide most of the formula for free.
post #19 of 34
Originally Posted by lyttlewon
I haven't finished your post but Holy crappin dog biscuits they give you 10 gallons of milk for 4 people a month!!!!! WTH? How much friggin milk can one person drink? Sorry but a gallon and a half of milk lasts my family of three for two months. That is just insane! Sorry I will continue with reading your post.

Ok so I did the math and that is only 5 cups a day which I guess isn't really that much.
ESPECIALLY since no one in my household can even drink milk, OR lactaid. My husband is severely allergic to the milk protein, and my baby takes after him. I could not even so much as glimpse an item with milk in it when my baby is much younger without him getting a really bad tummy ache, screaming, getting lethargic, and bloody stools. Now, it's a little bit better, but not much at all.

So all the first year of his life, I had tons of Lactaid from WIC sitting up in my fridge going bad with absolutely no way to use it. PLUS I had to go out and pay for soy milk in order to make and eat cereal and so forth.

I think that with a doctor's note, WIC should allow soy milk. I had one, my doctors told me not to drink any more milk cause of my child's explosive bloody stools and his lethargy whenever I tried to put Lactaid milk into my oatmeal like the WIC nutritionist said. (She said to cook it, he might better tolerate it.) I had a Docs not, and (beg your pardon, my child just on his tip toes, i'm leaning downfor him...) they said no. I understand why, but i just wish they would make an exception for mothers of babies with severe milk allergies.
post #20 of 34
Having been on WIC I have always been baffled by the heavy dairy diet they push. I always figured it was due to the dairy industry getting 'guaranteed use' of their products. I don't even drink milk, but loooove cheese Plus, here in NM, you can't even get any organic dairy or eggs. Just the cheapest of everything.. And you practically have to beg for the fruit/veggie vouchers in the summer.

I am wondering about the lower bfing rates. What is the rate for wic moms?? I know at my office, they push bfing HARD. I was nursing dd during one visit, and everyone went out of their way to 'remind' me that bfing was best. Duh!! Preaching to the choir!. The funny thing is, even though all the pregnant moms said they were planning to bf in their 'classes', I have NEVER seen anyone except myself without a bottle in hand. Admittedly, it could be boob juice, this is my admittedly biased assumption. But I highly doubt it.

I find it interesting that fewer wic moms bf. It must be all the free formula. Now if they made it that much harder to get the formula....
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