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.
Mama to DD (5) DD (3) and DS (2 months)