FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WBOY) — On Thursday morning, the Women, Infant, and Children’s (WIC) office in Fairmont is expecting a visit from Cindy Long, the administrator for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services.
Long will be touring the facility, as well as interacting with key staff members, clientele, and members of the media. This visit is just one of Long’s stops while she’s in north central West Virginia.
“I believe her first stop is going to be to visit a local school and see their food service production in progress, and they’re going to look at maybe some farm-to-table opportunities in West Virginia,” stated Jason Nguyen, Dietician and Nutritionist Supervisor at WIC’s Fairmont office.
During this visit, Nguyen said that the office will be showing off some new renovations that have been made internally and externally over the past two years. Some of the office’s renovations include new laminate flooring, new siding and gutters around the building and a mural outside that was completed through a joint cooperation with Fairmont State University’s art department.
“And the WIC program serves the local community—we do serve six counties in the region, and it’s an opportunity to show off kind of our staff and our services that we provide to the community,” Nguyen said.
Some of the different services provided by WIC include healthy nutrition education, referrals to other services in the community, monitoring growth and hemoglobin status to check children’s measurements, as well as breastfeeding information and referrals provided by the office’s on-site lactation consultants.
“And then for the community, we are providing a healthy food package for families to go to their grocery store and get fruits and vegetables, and more basic foods so that they [infants/children] can grow and learn and become healthy children, and start out on the right foot with pregnancy,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen also said that this visit will not affect whether their office gets extra funding through USDA grants, but it will give the Fairmont WIC office an opportunity to showcase its services to the community. However, the grant system requires funding to be approved each year by Congress. As a result, WIC’s funding for the upcoming year is still up in the air.
“I know that they’re [Congress] looking for a House speaker, and some things have to happen before they agree on the budget,” Nguyen said. If the office’s funding decreases, that will affect how much money families are allocated for nutritional groceries.
As of right now, the department doles out approximately 25 dollars per child and typically offers more to women who pregnant and/or breastfeeding.
“And so that dollar amount has a potential to unfortunately be decreased if the funding is not renewed for the upcoming year,” Nguyen said.
Because of this, Nguyen is encouraging families in the community to reach out to WIC’s representatives “so that they can show the benefits of WIC and know how important it is to the community.”
Some of the other officials that will be present at Thursday’s tour include Dr. Patty Bennett, administrator of the USDA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office (MARO), Julena Campbell, who is the MARO director of communications and partnerships, the state WIC director Heidi Staats, as well as Wendy Madden, the regional outreach representative for U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.