More than 112,000 Rio Grande Valley moms, infants and children depend on the nutritional benefits provided by WIC – the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program Women, Infants and Children. The four counties that make up the Valley (Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy) have done a good job of identifying and serving nutritionally at-risk households using innovative outreach methods. They have caught the attention of USDA Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Max Finberg and USDA FNS Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig, who toured Hidalgo County’s main WIC clinic on April 11.
Finberg and Ludwig also got to see a mobile clinic that has been used to go into rural areas which have limited to no access to a traditional WIC clinic. Based in McAllen, Texas, the mobile unit goes into surrounding rural communities and provides health counseling, checkups and assistance to more than 1,800 clients a month.
Like the traditional clinic, the mobile unit has nearly every instrument and technology. WIC Director Norma Longoria said her staff members enjoy taking their services on the road in order to reach more individuals in need.
WIC staff partner with local community centers to set up shop in centrally-located areas where the neighborhoods can come together and take advantage of the services.
Outreach efforts in Hidalgo have shown promising results. Latest figures available show that the total percent of eligible people being served in Hidalgo is 80.41 percent, compared to 67.31 percent in Cameron, 65.29 percent in Starr and 63.63 percent in Willacy.