Systemic Interventions – Underweight

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  WIC Referral

Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Food and Nutrition Education Program (WIC)

Background Education for Providers

Adequate and appropriate nutrition is essential for child growth and development. Caregivers may have problems providing their children with the appropriate nutritional foods due to socioeconomic stressors, a lack of resources, or a lack of knowledge about nutrition. Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Food and Nutrition Education Program (WIC) is a nutritional program that is designed to help pregnant women, new mothers, and young children eat well, learn about nutrition, and stay healthy. To meet these goals, WIC provides women, infants, and children with information about nutrition and healthy eating, breastfeeding, diet assessments, height and weight assessments, iron screenings, and information on community resources. WIC provides nutrition and education counseling to assess the needs of each individual client, in addition to providing referrals to doctors, dentists, and other community resources. Based on their individual needs, Clients will be provided with a monthly WIC check, which they can use at any WIC authorized grocery store, farmer’s market, or pharmacy. Through their participation in WIC, women and children receive the health benefits of a reduction in premature birth weight, low-birth weight, and long-term medical expenses.

WIC serves pregnant women, breastfeeding women, postpartum women, infants, and children up to the age of five. To qualify for WIC, participants must meet the income guidelines and have a nutritional need (i.e., any medical or nutritional condition that could be improved by enrolling in WIC). Qualification for the program can be determined at the local WIC project. Children are enrolled for 6 months, and they can continue to be re-enrolled through their fifth birthday as long as they demonstrate a nutritional need and meet income guidelines.

Benefits that participants will receive:

  • Women:
    • WIC Foods (i.e., milk, eggs, cheese, cereals, peanut butter, dried beans, peas, tuna fish, carrots, fruit juices, and medical food for special needs)
    • Information on healthy eating during pregnancy and breastfeeding
    • Breastfeeding support
  • Infants:
    • Breastfeeding support or infant formula (i.e., standard and special formulas)
    • Immunization referrals
    • Caregivers receive information on taking care of infants
  • Children up to age 5:
    • WIC foods
    • Immunization referrals
    • Caregivers receive information on food shopping, recipes, and feeding a child

Instructions for Provider

  • Assess for nutritional needs for women with infants or young children.
  • Check income guidelines at
  • Refer families to their local WIC project. The WIC offices will then be able to assess the family’s individual needs. The local WIC projects are listed below:
    • Milwaukee County:
      • West Allis Health Department | (414) 302-8642
      • Aurora Health Care | (414) 219-3210
      • Sixteenth Street Community Health Center | (414) 643-7554
      • Seeds of Health, Inc. | (414) 385-5611
      • City of Milwaukee Health Department
        • Northwest Health Center | (414) 286-8820
        • Keenan WIC Project | (414) 286-8813
        • South Side Health Center | (414) 286-8821
      • MLK-Heritage Health Center WIC | (414) 372-9029
      • Wee Care Day Care, Inc.
        • North Teutonia Avenue | (414) 449-8460
        • West Capitol Drive | (414) 449-8470
        • West North Avenue | (414) 837-8801
      • Cudahy Health Department
        • South Lake Drive | (414) 769-2229
        • West Forest Home Avenue | (414) 329-5243
    • Waukesha County:
      • Waukesha County Health Department | (262) 896-8440

Supplemental Materials

  Local Resources

Food bank/local resources

Background Education for Providers

Socioeconomic stressors can often contribute to nutritional disorders in children, particularly in minority populations, due to a lack of resources necessary to provide appropriate nutrition and education. There are a range of resources available within the area to assist families with the provision of nutritional foods and making healthy food choices.

2-1-1 Community Resources
This is a community helpline that can provide information for a range of services, which include:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Financial and Legal Help
  • Parenting and Child Care
  • Elder Care
  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Simply dial 2-1-1 from any phone to connect with the helpline.

FoodShare Wisconsin
FoodShare Wisconsin is a programmed designed to improve the health and nutrition of Wisconsin residents by helping to stop hunger. This program was instituted to help families and individuals with limited budgets and resources to buy the nutritious food that they need.

To enroll, caregivers will need to call 1-800-362-3002 to set up an appointment for an interview at their local county agency to review eligibility for services and determine their needs. The local county agencies for Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties are:

  • Milwaukee County | Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (Vliet St.): (414) 289-6000
  • Waukesha County | Waukesha County Health and Human Services: (262) 548-7280
Meals Matter provides education, resources, and tools to help families make nutritious meals at home and improve their overall diet and health. Resources provided by Meals Matter include:

  • Healthy Meal Planning Tools
  • Tips on Healthy School Lunches
  • Nutrition Challenges
  • Free Nutrition and Recipe Newsletter
  • Recipes and Meal Ideas
  • Fitness Planner
This government website provides information on the new dietary guidelines set forth by the USDA. There is wealth of information regarding meal planning, assessing food choices, physical activity, and weight loss, which is available using interactive tools that can make learning about food choices fun for everyone in the family.

Milwaukee County UW-Extension – Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program
This program helps families with limited resources to buy and prepare healthy foods safely, create healthier diets, and provides education on how to spend their money wisely in making appropriate food selections. These educational classes are free for families who meet income guidelines, and they provide research-based knowledge to help caregivers make better nutritional choices for their families.

Instructions for Provider

These programs and resources can be presented to families who may have limited resources. The links for these resources are provided, in addition to how to contact these services. Reaching out for help or admitting that they may need help can be difficult for some individuals, and the proper support and guidance should be provided. A social worker may want to be involved in helping to connect families with these services.

Supplemental Materials

  Nutrition Education for Limited Budgets

Background Education for Providers

Many of the families, who are on a limited food budget or receive government assistance to purchase food, lack the knowledge of how to buy and prepare a low-cost, healthy diet. When grocery shopping, it is often easier and cheaper to buy foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. In addition, in some areas, it may be more difficult to find healthier food options. The perceived high-cost of healthy food and lack of access can be a barrier for many of these families, resulting in poor food choices. This leads to the issue of not enough good-quality, nutritious foods to provide adequate nutrition, and it can often lead to macro/micro nutrient deficiencies.

Instructions for Providers

Providing nutritional education and helping families plan for food shopping and making healthy choices can give them with the knowledge they need to make better choices for their families.

Tips for Planning

  • Set a budget
  • Make a list – and stick to it.
  • Cut coupons
  • Plan your meals ahead of time and buy only the amounts you need to feed your family
    • Options for finding healthy low-cost recipes are or the USDA Recipe Finder Database.

Tips for Shopping

  • Compare prices
  • Buy store brands
  • Read labels
  • Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables
  • Shop farmer’s markets – many accept food stamps and WIC provides supplemental income to shop locally
  • Compare the cost of fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables (low-sodium)
  • Ask the bakery to purchase day-old bread
  • Buy store-brand whole-grain breads/cereals
  • Avoid buying instant grains – try regular oatmeal and whole-grain rice
  • Buy brown rice or whole grain tortillas for extra fiber
  • Buy whole chickens and trim them of fat and skin
  • Beans are a nutritious alternative to meet and are high in protein and fiber
  • Choose Skim or 1% milk
  • When possible, buy food in bulk that can be stored for long periods of time – it may cost more up-front, but it will be cheaper in the long run and last longer
  • Buy only what perishable foods you will use to prevent waste

Tips for Cooking and Storing

  • Store food properly to ensure it will not spoil and go to waste
  • Choose healthy, low-fat recipes
  • Get everyone involved in making the meal
  • Use leftovers to make new meals

In addition to providing families with these simple ideas, nutritional education is available to low-income families through WIC and the University of Wisconsin Extension Nutrition Education Program. These services are provided at no cost to families, and they can be easily referred.

Supplemental Materials

Contact Us

Email the Nutritional Disorders Telehealth Network Project Team

Please contact us if you are interested in using any of the project materials or if you would like more information regarding the project.