WIC continues tradition of helping families

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Former Reporter
12/27/2017 08:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
In this archive photo, Natasha Bell, right, smiles at her son while Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children specialist Teresa Tackett records his weight at the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. ARCHIVE
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Since 1977, the Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children Program has assisted more than 6,700 Native and non-Native American individuals each month with food, wellness and health services.

“Cherokee Nation WIC is unique in that we are located and operate within our health clinics and hospital operations and offer a more one-stop-shopping to health care,” CN WIC Director Brenda Carter said.

The federally funded program began in 1974 and extended to CN clinics and hospitals in 1977 to help pregnant and nursing women, as well as infants and children from birth to 5 years old living in the tribe’s jurisdiction.

It seeks to improve the well-being of mothers, infants and children by helping predict future and public health challenges for families, communities and the health care system.

“Studies have shown that the WIC Program is effective in protecting or improving the health and nutrition status of low-income women, infants and children,” Carter said.

Enrollment in WIC has led to “fewer premature births and low-birth weight infants, fetal deaths, and infant mortality,” as well as a decreased incidence of iron deficiency in children, Carter said.

Nutrition education is one of the program’s main services. Eligible families receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer card, or eWIC, to shop for healthy foods at authorized grocery stores, and it allows them to complete nutrition counseling.

“Nutrition education is offered primarily through one-on-one nutrition counseling,” Carter said. “WIC nutrition education is participant-centered, designed to meet the needs of each participant. Through WIC nutrition education, families can learn to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.”

Nutrition counseling discusses topics such as best feeding practices for children and how women can eat healthy during pregnancy.

WIC also assists new and expecting mothers by promoting and providing breastfeeding support. Whether through education or giving free breast pumps to eligible participants, Carter said all WIC employees undergo breastfeeding training and “have a role” to play.

Additionally, WIC can assist women and children through its ability to make referrals.

“Partnerships with other public health and social services programs are a key to WIC’s success,” Carter said. “WIC encourages all participants to receive complete health care and does make participant referrals to health care services…”

For individuals who identify as Native American, public health service referrals can be made in areas such as drug and alcohol counseling, smoking cessation counseling, behavioral health, family planning, immunizations and general medical care.

Referrals to social services programs can also be given regardless of Native American descent to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SoonerCare, emergency shelters, housing assistance, food banks and domestic violence programs.

“Cherokee Nation WIC also works within the communities to offer our non-Indian participants with referrals to health and social services programs available in local areas,” Carter said.

For more information, call 918-453-5000, ext. 5589 or visit any WIC clinic. Individuals interested in applying will need an appointment to determine nutritional risk and must provide an address, proof of identification and income statements.

Click here to readthe WIC Income Eligibility Guidelines.

Cherokee Nation WIC eligibility criteria

1. To be categorically eligible, a WIC applicant must be a/an:

• Women who are pregnant (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or pregnancy ends),

• Breastfeeding woman with an infant under the age of 12 months,

• Non-breastfeeding woman up to 6 months postpartum,

• Infant under 12 months of age, or

• Child 1 to 5 years of age.

2. Meet the CN WIC Program’s residency requirements.

3. Have an income that is at or below the WIC income guidelines.

4. Meet identification requirements.

5. Be physically present at the eligibility screening appointment or meet one of the exceptions.

6. Have a nutrition risk – a health condition or diet problem that can be helped with nutritious WIC foods and nutrition education.

Cherokee Nation WIC locations

Claremore Indian Hospital
101 S. Moore Ave.
Claremore, Oklahoma

Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital
100 S. Bliss
Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Sam Hider Health Center
859 E. Melton Drive
Jay, Oklahoma

A-MO Salina Health Center
900 Owen Walters Blvd.
Salina, Oklahoma

Redbird Smith Health Center
301 S. J.T. Stites Ave.
Sallisaw, Oklahoma

Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center
Hwy 51 East
Stilwell, Oklahoma

Indian Health Care Resource Center
550 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Will Rogers Health Center
1020 Lenape Drive
Nowata, Oklahoma

Three Rivers Health Center
1001 S. 41st St. East
Muskogee, Oklahoma

Westville WIC Office
Bushyhead Heights
Community Building
Westville, Oklahoma

Cherokee Nation Vinita Health Center
27371 S. 4410 Road
Vinita, Oklahoma

Kansas WIC Office
211 N. Hwy 10
Kansas, Oklahoma

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