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Checkoff supports WIC with dairy nutrition programming

April 1, 2024


6 minute read

Healthcare providers, such as pediatricians and pediatric registered dietitians, are a primary audience for sharing dairy resources, serving as trusted advisors to parents. This is why Midwest Dairy partnered with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) throughout our 10-state region. This partnership enables Checkoff to deliver impactful dairy nutrition information to diverse consumers through this influential program during an important time in their lives. WIC safeguards the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age five. This program provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to healthcare services for those in need. This information is commonly available at county health departments, hospitals, mobile clinics, community centers, schools, public housing sites, and migrant centers/health service facilities.  

By targeting healthcare professionals, Midwest Dairy aims to enhance consumer trust by providing science-based educational resources for patient and family education. Below are a few examples of WIC partners across the 10-state region and how Midwest Dairy supported them with science-based information and deliverables in 2023.  

10-State Region 

Midwest Dairy learned from multiple healthcare providers that parents today are seeking helpful information delivered in more engaging ways than paper handouts. Conversations with WIC clinics throughout the Midwest region revealed that providers struggle to educate parents about why, how, and when to transition their children from whole to skim or 1 percent milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend transitioning children to lower-fat milk at two years of age, but this can be an adjustment for little tastebuds and a big challenge for parents. 

Midwest Dairy provided a solution for WIC providers by developing a fun and educational video to help providers guide parents in transitioning their children to lower-fat milk. Through animations, this video teaches parents how to transition slowly and at their child’s pace. It also informs parents that although the fat and calories differ, all milk (including lactose-free) contains the same 13 essential nutrients to nourish their growing child. Providers noted language as a barrier to providing care, so videos were also translated into Spanish. 

Midwest Dairy is proud to say that these videos have been adopted by clinics throughout the Midwest Dairy region and shared with the National Dairy Council and all other state and regional dairy organizations for adoption with partners nationwide. Click here to take a look! 

Illinois WIC 

Conversations with the Illinois WIC nutrition services coordinator revealed that some Illinois families struggle with knowing how to utilize all the foods that come in their WIC packages. To address this, checkoff collaborated with the American Dairy Association of the Mideast to adapt a resource they created for the West Virginia WIC centers to help Illinois WIC. 

The “Perfect Pairings” brochure and poster were ideal for Illinois WIC’s use. These resources help nutrition educators guide families through the foods in the WIC packages and highlight which dairy items and other foods are most appropriate for each age group. Utilizing another state and region checkoff was extremely helpful and allowed us to adapt the document quickly. Illinois WIC also highlighted the diversity of its participants, noting a sizeable Hispanic population. To ensure the resource would be both effective and culturally considerate, it was translated into Spanish. In late April, Illinois WIC hosted a symposium where this new bilingual resource was used as a training tool for 350 WIC nutrition educators. The “Perfect Pairings” resource was also made available in the Illinois WIC warehouse for simple ordering by the over 90 clinics statewide, reaching over 200,000 families in 2023. These resources have been so helpful that the Nebraska WIC centers have adopted them and translated them into additional languages to reach their diverse participants.

Missouri WIC 

Midwest Dairy partnered with healthcare professionals at the Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers (BJKPHC). This nonprofit organization provides healthcare services to underserved communities in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. The health centers offer a wide range of medical services to individuals and families with limited access to healthcare, including those without insurance or Medicaid coverage. BJKPHC is also known for participating in WIC programming and currently serves over 4,000 area clients monthly.  

Dairy handouts

In 2023, Midwest Dairy was proud to provide nutrition education resources to the healthcare professionals serving this vulnerable population. These resources aided healthcare providers in navigating pediatric challenges such as picky eating, managing lactose intolerance, and transitioning from whole milk to 2 percent milk for infants. Additionally, these resources were translated into multiple languages to ensure that the information reaches the diverse populations that are represented.  

Midwest Dairy also partnered with Family Care Health Centers (FCHC) in St. Louis, a community health network center offering comprehensive healthcare services to residents of the St. Louis area. These centers provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services to individuals and families, focusing on providing care to underserved and uninsured populations. Annually, FCHC provides healthcare services to over 9,600 clients. FCHC received four patient education handouts and six patient education videos, all featuring dairy-related nutrition education that included the following topics: lactose intolerance, transitioning from whole to lower-fat milk, gut and immune health, and general nutrition. The Nutrition Team at FCHC was especially excited to receive our video-based materials as they were seeking patient education content for their waiting room. 

Lastly, Midwest Dairy partnered with the St. Charles County Public Health Department (SCCPHD), which serves one of the most populous counties in Missouri. SCCPHD is responsible for protecting and improving the health and well-being of its 400,000 residents and provides healthcare services to over 19,200 clients annually. SCCPHD adopted the Milk Transition and the Good Nutrition Made Easy handouts for their clients. The Nutrition & WIC Coordinator at SCCPHD notes the frequent need for education on these topics and how these materials would serve as a reminder of good practices. 

Kansas WIC 

In 2023, Kansas WIC updated its nutrition education resource listing for local agencies and leaned on Midwest Dairy to update the dairy section and resources. Midwest Dairy also helped them translate the Making the Move handout into Portuguese to meet client needs after receiving feedback from the Kansas WIC nutrition education committee. Resources were also requested and shared with Children’s Mercy Hospital, and the University of Kansas Medical Center registered dietitians.  

Oklahoma WIC 

Midwest Dairy collaborated with Oklahoma healthcare partners, focusing on pediatric nutrition, to curate a range of contemporary resources, including videos and handouts for healthcare professionals. These valuable materials were distributed throughout 2023 to key entities such as the Tulsa WIC office, and other healthcare networks like the St. Francis Healthcare System, and the Oklahoma State Office of Rural Health.  

A noteworthy milestone in the state occurred when the Oklahoma State Office of Rural Health actively promoted Midwest Dairy’s “Smart Moo-ve Healthy All Day Long” toolkit, specifically tailored for primary and pediatric care professionals across healthcare facilities.  

Nebraska WIC 

To better equip healthcare providers in Nebraska with evidence-based information that can serve a diverse audience, Midwest Dairy translated two dairy pairing resources into five different languages. The WIC clinics across Nebraska appreciated and adopted these materials for use with their 35,000 participants. While these resources were created specifically for the WIC benefits package, other healthcare systems across Nebraska also adopted them for use with their pediatric and adult populations. These resources identify the positive impact of providing visuals of how dairy fits within the day and with other food groups for providers and patients. Additionally, Midwest Dairy prioritized that these deliverables be translated into different languages to ensure patients are not only able to receive the information but that they receive the correct information.