Celebrating 50 Years Of WIC, Employee Excellence

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. WIC was created in 1974 to help families and young children during a critical time of growth and development. Half a century ago, the first WIC clinic opened its doors in Pineville, Ky., to a full waiting room—some who had come from almost 300 miles away— and local news stations eager to document the unveiling of this groundbreaking support program for women, infants, and children.

“WIC is a critical program to feed prenatal and postpartum women and young kids, but our support to families doesn’t stop there,” said Lesley Thiessen, WIC CPA. “We help families learn about nutrition and healthy food, we provide breastfeeding education and connect people to other health and social services they may need in Richland and Sheridan Counties.”

Thiessen is the Richland County Health Department’s Employee Spotlight for her years of service to the WIC program. She stepped up in August, 2011 to become the coordinator for our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplement nutrition program.

Of her WIC position, Lesley said, “It’s rewarding to see families engaged in improving how they feed their families, and it’s nice to help someone out of a tough spot when they are struggling. Plus, I get to hold babies!”

She has recently participated in the WIC Shopping Improvement project to improve participants’ experience at our local grocery stores. “ Lesley has grown in her leadership skills and knowledge of WIC over the past year, especially through her participation in the WIC Shopping Improvement project,” said Kathy Helmuth, Health Assurance Nurse director. “Lesley is an excellent WIC nurse. She cares deeply about her participants and strives to meet their needs while following the guidelines of the WIC program. She goes above and beyond in her WIC role, including flexible scheduling, referrals to other services and establishing rapport with our local grocery stores. Thank you Lesley for all you do for families in our counties!”

In Montana, WIC includes 34 local agencies and over 80 clinic sites serving all 56 counties and seven tribal reservations. Nearly 14,000 women, infants, and children are enrolled across the state. However, only 55% of eligible families are signed up.

WIC eligibility requires participants to be pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, or have a child younger than five. Participants must also meet income requirements—making less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Level or qualify for Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, or free/reduced school meal program. Specific WIC eligibility guidelines can be found on the DPHHS website.

The Richland County WIC office is located at 1201 West Holly St Suite 1 and can be reached at 406-433-2207. To learn more about WIC or find out if you are eligible, go to http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/ecfsd/wic/index. The state WIC office may be reached at 1-800-433-4298 or emailed at [email protected]


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