MFHS WIC Program Helps Single Mothers in Need

Image taken at Maternal and Family Health location in downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA for LCCC "The Bridge" Alumni Magazine.

MFHS President & CEO Bette Cox Saxton

A recent article titled, “ Low-income single moms struggle to find help”, published in local media by the investigative news organization, PublicSource, provided an in-depth perspective of so many low income single mothers who face the harsh reality of raising their children in a very challenging fiscal environment.

It directly addressed a very disturbing fact from which there is no avoidance: Approximately 320,000 ‘single moms’ in our Commonwealth have become a “scapegoat for a variety of social problems” and many live with the assumption that their children “are presumed to inevitably face bleak futures simply because they aren’t part of a nuclear family…”

At Maternal and Family Health Services, we know all too well the daily trials and tribulations that single mothers face. Indeed, a significant percentage of single mothers hold minimum wage jobs without stable work schedules or sick days. What’s more, many come from families without means, so grandparents can’t readily step in to help with the children. For so many, it’s a daunting challenge to try to get an education while raising children and holding down a job.

About 40 percent of single moms in Pennsylvania are in poverty; more than 30 percent are unemployed, according to Census data. With employment challenges and limited resources, these women need basic supplemental food support for their families, and fortunately, many find it by participating in Maternal and Family Health Services’ Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. This vital program, one of our organization’s core services, helps low-income pregnant women and mothers with children under age 5 with food stipends, one-on-one nutrition education and health referral services. Its unique combination of nutrition education, healthy foods, breastfeeding support and health care oversight offers a gateway to good health that provides not just the immediate food benefits to a family but education to influence positive eating habits for a lifetime.

Last year alone, MFHS’ WIC Program, which encompasses 16 counties, provided more than 56,000 women, babies and toddlers with nutrition counseling and food vouchers. While the impact of such a critical social program is profound, it can help even more children eat nutritiously and lead healthier lives if a plan recently announced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, helps close the “WIC gap” in which some children lose WIC benefits before they enter school, due to their birthday determining when they can start attending. Senator Casey’s caring and compassionate plan would extend WIC benefits for children until the age of six.

As children across the Commonwealth return to school, it is most assuring to know that organizations such as Maternal and Family Health Services and political leaders like Senator Bob Casey are doing everything within their power to ensure that these children and their families are afforded the very same opportunity of others more fortunate: to live healthy and productive lives.

I invite all to visit our website www.mfhs.org to learn more about our free WIC program and its many benefits, and I especially implore those who are in need to visit the site today or call 1-800-FOR MFHS (1-800-367-6347) to see if you qualify.

Bette Cox Saxton

President & CEO

Maternal & Family Health Services

Wilkes-Barre