Ann Marie is a single mom raising a family of four children. When she became pregnant with her second child, she was working fulltime as a hairstylist, had a teenage daughter, and was struggling to make ends meet.
“It was already difficult to provide for my teenage daughter. I was completely overwhelmed by being pregnant,” remembered Ann Marie. “One of my salon clients introduced me to the WIC program, and told me about all the benefits it would offer me. I went right away.”
Public Health Solutions (PHS) has operated the Neighborhood WIC program for over 40 years, and is the largest WIC program in New York State. Our organization manages nine free-standing WIC centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, serving approximately 40,000 low-income women, infants, and children annually. Our centers provide low-income families education and counseling around nutrition and physical activity, breastfeeding support, and checks to purchase nutritious foods. We also provide referrals to other helpful services including SNAP and health insurance (co-located at many of our sites), medical and dental providers, childcare, and other needed services.
“I needed all the help I could get to eat healthier and support to breastfeed. Because of WIC, I was introduced to a healthier lifestyle.”
WIC has shown to have incredible health outcomes, including healthier pregnancies and births, improved breastfeeding rates, better diets, reduced childhood obesity rates, and improvements in children’s physical and cognitive development.
As a result of the WIC program, Ann Marie shifted how she fed her family. Her children began to drink more milk, and eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Through PHS’ Farmers Market initiative, Ann Marie learned to use her WIC checks to purchase fresh produce at her local farmers market. She has since had two additional children, all of whom have benefited from the WIC program.
“I wish I had known about WIC with my first daughter. When she was young, I did not feed her very healthy. I didn’t have the knowledge to do so. It was so different for the rest of my children, who are so healthy and active.”
In talking about how PHS’ Neighborhood WIC impacted her life, Ann Marie also shared challenges that low-income families face to afford eating healthy.
“If I did not have WIC in my life, it would be a struggle. It’s not easy to afford healthy food. It is such a great help to have that support to purchase foods. I have the money I need to purchase milk and fresh fruits and vegetables. I feel lucky that my children love dairy and fruit the way they do. If it were not for my WIC checks, I would not have introduced milk to them.
“I have friends whose children do not drink milk because they just can’t afford it.”
Ann Marie feels enormously grateful for the nutritional support that PHS’ Neighborhood WIC provided her. And yet, she believes the biggest benefit is the ongoing emotional support the staff have given her during a time she needed it.
“The WIC staff gave me guidance and support to live a healthier lifestyle. It was life-changing for me. Breastfeeding is very challenging and even painful. They taught me how to do so better, and kept reminding me of the benefits for my baby. They encouraged me to keep going.
I am blessed to know about the program. It has been so good for me and my family. I am very happy, I will always spread the word about why WIC is a great program.”
This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For full Nondiscrimination Statement and to learn more about Neighborhood WIC, click here.