Healthier choices on the way for Hawaii WIC clients

Linda Chock
Linda Chock

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Eating right can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for those facing financial shortfalls. But an island program makes grocery shopping, not only less costly, it is also making it healthier.

There will soon be more choices at the supermarket for thousands of island shoppers.

As the women, infants and children's nutrition program, known as WIC makes some changes.

"Our most exciting changes are cash value vouchers which can be used for fresh fruits and vegetables," said WIC Branch Coordinator, Linda Chock.

Adding fruits and vegetables to their list, means clients will be eating foods with more fiber and less fat.

"Fruits and veggies have a lot of vitamins and minerals and most people don't get enough of them in their diet"

Shoppers will even be able to pick up portions of poi and sardines each month. As the voucher program now offers more alternatives.

"Some of our clients are lactose intolerant, so we are offering soy milk and tofu as an alternative"

People will also be able to substitute tortillas and brown rice as their bread choices.

To make room for all these new items on the WIC list, there will be some cutbacks, like the amount of milk under the program. The program also cuts back on juice for infants but at the same time, adds baby fruits, vegetables and meats.

Enrollment in WIC is at an all time high. Hawaii has over 37,000 women, infants and children getting free food each month. Nearly a ten percent increase from last year's numbers. And with the first change to the WIC program in 35 years, some hope more choices will lead to fewer health problems in the islands.

"We're hoping these changes will impact heart disease and diabetes rates in Hawaii."

In order to be eligible for WIC, you must be pregnant, breastfeeding, or a postpartum woman with an infant or children under the age of five. There are also certain income requirements as well.

The new changes to the food program begin October 1st.