Sen. Leahy to be Honored with National WIC Award

For Immediate Release: August 15, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – Sen. Patrick Leahy will receive a national award Friday for co-sponsoring legislation in 1989 that required all states to use a competitive bidding process when buying infant formula for the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

The program, which was first implemented statewide in Vermont, has generated more than $21.4 billion in non-taxable revenue nationwide from infant formula rebates, according to the National WIC Association.

“The program became the one of the nation’s most successful cost-containment programs,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN.  "The WIC program established by the Health Department here in Vermont in 1974 quickly earned a reputation as being one of the best and most successful nutrition programs ever developed.”

The program provides milk, cheese, eggs, peanut butter and juice and other foods to help meet nutritional needs of pregnant women, young mothers and infants through age 5.  The program serves 16,300 people a month in Vermont, including 2,800 people each month in Chittenden County.

Agency of Human Services Sec. Cindy LaWare will present the award on Friday during a WIC clinic at the Children with Special Health Needs office at the Health Department in Burlington at 10 a.m.

The Health Department conducts more than 60 Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinics statewide each year. Poor nutrition during early childhood increases the chance of anemia, adds to health care costs and limits a child’s ability to learn.  

Poor nutrition during a baby's first five years will affect that baby for the rest of its life.  During this critical period of a child’s development, WIC provides a safe, nurturing environment for nutrition education, healthcare and social service referrals, as well as free access to nutritious foods  

“As the former chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Leahy made certain that WIC did not weaken or lose steam,” LaWare said. “His contribution to the success of this program cannot be overstated and it will be an honor to present him with this national award.”


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