Photo by Unsplash
Photo by Unsplash

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and children everywhere are gathering flowers and crafting cards to thank their moms for all the work they do. 

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities of Columbia and Greene counties is helping mothers with all the work they do, thanks to the Catholic Charities Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program. 

The federal program strives to help support low-to-moderate income pregnant women, recently delivered women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to 5 years old who are at risk nutritionally. 

Through WIC, mothers are able gain access to healthier foods and learn how they can maintain a healthy, affordable diet for themselves and their family.

“I look at the WIC program as a way of giving tools to moms and families so they can be the most that they can be,” said Theresa Lux, executive director for Catholic Charities of Columbia and Greene counties. “They don’t always have the tools to do that.” 

WIC participants receive supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition education and counseling at clinics, and screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social services. “The bulk of the WIC programs is on nutrition,” Lux said. 

Participants are provided with pre-loaded debit cards to use on healthy foods tailored to their food plans. In 2018, the WIC program made the switch from paper checks to debit cards, called eWICs, making it easier for clients to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Mothers also receive a customized food package that lists nutritional foods with specific amounts they can purchase with the eWIC card that match their nutritional needs.

“With a card if you want to buy one banana today, you don’t have to get everything for the week all at once,” Lux said. 

Expecting mothers are also eligible for eWIC cards and nutritional information education. Breastfeeding mothers can be provided breast pumps through WIC based on eligibility, and all expecting moms are connected with peer counseling support groups for pre- and postpartum support.

“It’s our mission to help,” Lux said. “That’s the mission of Catholic Charities. We’re doing this because there’s a need to do it.”

Catholic Charities has overseen the WIC program in Greene and Columbia county since 1979. Lux said that being connected with Catholic Charities helps refer clients to other programs; instead of having to contact another agency, much of the work can be done underneath Catholic Charities’ vast umbrella. 

“We’re here for the nutrition piece. What else can we help with, we’ll happily refer somebody,” said Lux. 

In 2018, Catholic Charities served 4,448 children and 4,201 adults in need. While Lux said that she doesn’t see an increase in the number of women in the program, this type of need “is never going to disappear.”

“One of the things I love about Catholic Charities is that we do good work with good people, and we have the flexibility to get things done,” Lux said. “I’m very proud.”

For more information about the Catholic Charities WIC program, contact the Catholic Charities Hudson office at 518-828-8660 or the Catskill office at 518-943-1462.

Or go online: https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/about-wic-wic-glance and https://www.wicprograms.org/li/catholic_charities_of_columbia_county_12534