State Health Department to Place WIC Outreach Message on Stewart's Shops' Milk Cartons

Message to appear on 130,000 half gallon milk cartons the week of January 13, 2003

ALBANY, January 7, 2003 – A message encouraging women to take advantage of New York State's WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program will soon be appearing on the side panels of approximately 130,000 Stewart's Shops' half gallon milk cartons. At no cost, Stewart's has agreed to assist in spreading the word about the availability of WIC services by including the message on milk cartons that will be distributed to their 315 stores in New York and Vermont the week of January 13, 2003.

"WIC is one of our most valuable resources in protecting the health of New York's mothers and their children and we want to thank Stewart's for helping us reach over 100,000 New Yorkers with this key message. It is essential that as many eligible individuals as possible take advantage of this wonderful program," said State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. "We are excited about this first time collaboration between Stewart's and WIC and the possibility of doing something similar next year. We are also optimistic that we will be able to convince other milk companies in New York State to join us in promoting this worthwhile program."

The WIC Program is a federally funded food and nutrition program that provides food and nutrition education to pregnant, breast-feeding and postpartum women, children up to age five and infants. The calcium and iron rich foods that are available from WIC have been specifically chosen to prevent low birth weight and promote the general health of mothers and infants who have documented nutritional risks that can affect proper growth and development during the critical early years of life. WIC also assists in coordinating health and community services for its participants by having an active referral network and offering a comprehensive Medicaid/Child Health Plus/WIC application to streamline access to other services.

WIC is currently serving more than 450,000 participants throughout New York and is available in every county in the state through a network of 99 local service providers. Nearly 50 percent of all infants born in the United States receive WIC benefits, making it the nation's premier public health nutrition program. To be eligible for WIC, participants must be a state resident, have an income level at or below 185% of the federal poverty level and have a documented nutritional risk.

The outreach message was jointly developed by the State Health Department, which administers the WIC Program in New York, and Barbara Rascoe, the WIC coordinator for St. Lawrence County.

GRAPHIC: WIC carton outreach message

For more information on the New York's WIC Program, visit the WIC page on the State Health Department's Web site (www.health.ny.gov) or, for specific WIC locations in New York, call the Growing Up Healthy Hotline at 1-800-522-5006.

1/7/03—2 OPA