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March is National Nutrition Month

Local WIC services and partnerships promote healthy eating

To celebrate National Nutrition Month, Washtenaw County Public Health’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program is joining with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to remind all residents that making small changes – one forkful at a time – can lead to long-term healthier eating habits.

“WIC Registered Dietitians help local families start on the path of healthy eating from the beginning,” says Gayathri Akella, Washtenaw County WIC Service Coordinator.

WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, peer counseling and referrals based on health screenings and needs assessments. In Washtenaw County, the program is available to women with low and moderate incomes who are pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum, and to children up to age five. It is a federally-funded program, operated locally.

WIC has demonstrated positive effects on pregnancy outcomes, child growth and development. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that obesity rates in young children enrolled in WIC have decreased both nationally and in Michigan. In 2015, 21 percent of Washtenaw WIC participants two to four years old were overweight or obese, compared to 27 percent of their low-income peers of the same ages.

This year’s National Nutrition Month theme, "Put Your Best Fork Forward," reminds residents that each bite counts. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest starting with small changes in order to make healthier lasting changes. These could include:

    • Creating an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
    • Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
    • Eat and drink the right amount for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
    • When dining out, plan ahead, consider the menu and choose foods carefully.
    • Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.

Nutrition services are also available at Washtenaw County Public Health. Find out if you qualify for WIC at  publichealth.ewashtenaw.org/wic, and call 734-544-6800 to schedule an appointment. You can find WIC hours and locations here.

In addition, Washtenaw County Public Health partners with Food Gatherers to provide free healthy food at monthly food distributions. The distributions take place every third Wednesday of the month from 2-3:30pm in Public Health’s atrium, 555 Towner Street, Ypsilanti, 48198. This month’s distribution is today, March 15. No proof of income or ID is necessary to receive the healthy food.

Other food and healthy eating resources provided by Washtenaw County Public Health can be found on our website. For more information about healthful eating or National Nutrition Month, visit www.eatright.org. Find Washtenaw County WIC online at publichealth.ewashtenaw.org/wic or call 734-544-6800.

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Washtenaw County Public Health

Washtenaw County Public Health promotes health and works to prevent disease and injury in our community. Our mission is to assure, in partnership with the community, the conditions necessary for people to live healthy lives through prevention and protection programs. Working with community partners to promote equitable access to health care and resources for healthful living, like healthy food, is a critical part of our role. Visit Washtenaw County Public Health online at http://publichealth.ewashtenaw.org or call 734-544-6700.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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