OSKALOOSA – Rumors surrounding COVID-19 have been spreading just as fast as the illness itself especially as it relates to government organizations like the Women, Infants & Children’s office.
From the government sending disaster cards to offset expiring WIC benefits to WIC offices closing their door completely, the Iowa Department of Public Health WIC office said they have heard it all and would like to put an end to the false statements circulating social media sites like Facebook and the community. Through American Home Finding, WIC Maternal Child Health Coordinator Alesia Houser said benefits are not expiring at the end of the month and the WIC office will remain open as they have found alternative ways to continue to provide support to the families in seven Iowa counties that they serve.
“We are closed [to the public], but all of our phone lines are still open,” Houser said. “We are still offering everything that we would do if a person walked into our office over the phone.”
Houser said no services have been discontinued, and it is their goal to keep things operating as close to normal as possible with all circumstances considered.
“We’re able to load their card after they’ve gone to their appointment and they don’t have to leave the house. If they’re new, we’re able to mail out cards right now,” she said. “We can literally do the entire appointment over the phone, over FaceTime, over whatever platform is that person is needing to complete all of the services and then send that card out to them.”
At this time the office is anticipating a rise in the number of new applicants with more and more employers closing their doors and limiting the number of hours their employees can work. According to Houser, it’s the goal of the WIC office to meet the needs of the community by being there for those that need assistance.
“With people’s jobs closing and people getting laid off we want to make sure that those that are at risk or in need are covered,” she said.
For anyone that has previously been on WIC the approval process for one child could be done in approximately 15 minutes. For a first-time pregnant woman, the process may be 15 to 30 minutes longer as more information is required and there will be some mandatory educational things to cover.
The American Home Finding Association services WIC in Mahaska, Wapello, Keokuk, Jefferson, Van Buren,, Davis and Appanoose counties. Residents in these areas are encouraged to call 641-682-8784 or 1-800-452-1098 to inquire about the program or apply.