Fairbanks-area WIC benefits to be dispersed through Juneau office

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:23 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a federal program to provide nutrition services for children 5 and under and their parents.

According to Leigh Bolin, Executive Director of local nonprofit Resource Center for Parents and Children (RCPC), “It provides supplemental nutrition services for children under the age of 5, people who are pregnant, port-partum, breastfeeding and infants.”

These services are distributed based on need by each state. “The state gets funding from the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] to provide WIC services. Agencies across the state can apply to serve their area, so it’s split up into service areas.”

Since the 90s, in much of the Interior these benefits have been dispersed through RCPC. “We have a registered dietician on staff. We have access to a board-certified lactation consultant. We really work with the whole family,” Bolin said.

However, starting July 1, the program is changing hands.

In April, RCPC was notified the grant amount for the WIC program was being reduced in the Fairbanks area. “The numbers in Alaska had been declining in WIC participants, so I knew that there was a chance that it could be less than usual, but this was an almost 40 percent reduction,” explained Bolin.

The new funding amount, combined with the federal requirements needed to continue offering the program, made the nonprofit’s continued participation impractical.

When RCPC decided not to reapply for the grant, it opened up to other organizations in the community, with dismal results. “It turns out that nobody in the community applied for the grant, and we were left with making a plan with the state on how clients could continue to have services going forward.”

With the state now running WIC in Fairbanks, clients are assured that they don’t need to take any action to stay on the program.

Their benefits will automatically transfer to the Midnight Sun WIC Program in Juneau. A letter was sent out to recipients explaining the change.

In the event that they need to contact their provider, recipients will no longer go through the resource center. “Basically, any time they would come to RCPC or call RCPC they will now call the phone number and email the email address that was given in that letter.”

While the resource center has had to let go of some of their WIC-related staff, community support has continued for the nonprofit. “We’ve had people contact us just to check in and see how we’re doing,” Bolin said, adding, “We’ve had people contact us to see if they can offer our staff jobs.”

More information about the change can be found here.

Those needing to contact the Midnight Sun WIC Program can email doh.wic.services@alaska.gov or call (907) 465-3416.

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