Letter to the Editor: National Nutrition Month 2024

Jean Holmgren
Letter to the Editor: National Nutrition Month 2024 Featured Image

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is “Beyond the Table,” with a focus on the less commonly discussed pieces of good nutrition, from food production to navigating grocery stores and farmers markets — and even home food safety and storage practices. National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). 

At Maternal & Family Health Services (MFHS), the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program is dedicated to helping resource limited families build healthy nutritional habits for themselves and their young children. Our nutritionists and support staff work closely to educate parents in the program to optimize their food choices and lay the groundwork for a lifetime of good health and nutrition. WIC is currently celebrating 50 years of supporting young families, and as one of the first WIC providers in Pennsylvania, MFHS is also celebrating this milestone throughout 2024. 

As the nation’s premier public health and nutrition education program, WIC strives to achieve one primary goal: to influence lifetime nutrition through positive health behaviors. Through WIC, MFHS offers pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and children under age five access to nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, immunization record checks, iron deficiency screening and referrals for other health and social services. Many working families qualify for WIC, and MFHS staff can help them determine their eligibility over the phone (1-866-942-8463) before scheduling their first appointment. 

Research has consistently demonstrated that if children have proper nutrition and eating habits early in life, they’re healthier, do better in school and ultimately will be cognizant of making proper food choices throughout their lives.  

A typical WIC visit includes a personal nutrition assessment and an opportunity to meet with an MFHS nutritionist to design a nutritional program specific to the participant’s individual needs. Participants then receive a ‘prescribed’ food list that is based on nutritional guidelines and includes healthy foods such as eggs, cheese, fish, fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads. Food packages can be customized for other dietary needs as well, including vegetarian and Kosher diets. During the summer months, participants in the program also receive vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables at their local farmers market. In addition, WIC participants are provided ample education and tools to help guide them through their nutrition decision-making.   

At MFHS, every day is an opportunity to change lives for the better through good nutritional habits.  In doing so, we improve the quality of life and the healthy lifestyles of tens of thousands of high-risk families in our communities. It’s our firm commitment, and one from which we will never waver. You can learn more about the program, see income guidelines, and find out how to apply on our website: MFHS.org. 

Maria Montoro Edwards, PhD 
President & CEO, Maternal and Family Health Services