A recent increase in income guidelines for the federal Women, Infants and Children federal supplemental feeding program not only makes more north country residents eligible for the program, it also allows many families to remain on that assistance.
Angel M. Carter, WIC nutritionist for Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, said minuscule pay increases sometimes prevent families from receiving program benefits.
Some apply early on that are over the threshold, but later on in the year, like now, they can reapply, she said Thursday.
As of the end of May, there were 5,544 people enrolled in the WIC program in Jefferson County,1,075 in Lewis County, 2,939 in St. Lawrence County and 1,165 in Franklin County.
Mrs. Carter said the North Country Childrens Clinic, which oversees the WIC program locally, already has surpassed the target of maintaining 10,357 people in the program for 2012.
New income guidelines will allow a family of two, for example, to have a gross annual income of $27,991, compared with $27,214 for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Enrollment is open throughout the year, and Mrs. Carter said Childrens Clinic staff is available at all WIC clinics to answer eligibility questions.
They can come in anytime and just need proof of income, or have food stamps, or be on Medicaid, Mrs. Carter said. A lot of military and working families qualify too.
The program is for pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, infants and children up to age 5. Once in the program, participants may be eligible to receive food vouchers valued at more than $100 per person per month.
Vouchers are good for fruit, vegetables, eggs, cheese, cereal, milk, juice and peanut butter. Formula, infant cereal and juice also are available.
More information is available by calling the following WIC offices: 782-9222 for Watertown; 376-6427 for Lowville; 386-8128 for Canton; and (518) 483-4262 for Malone. Guidelines and other information are at www.fns.usda.gov/wic.