MFHS Announces Launch of Electronic WIC

Pennsylvania’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), is offering its families a new way to shop for WIC food benefits using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (eWIC) card. No more paper checks! WIC families in the MFHS service area that includes Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming counties will begin using this new tool in October 2019.

With the eWIC card, shopping will be quick, easy and convenient for WIC families and grocery stores. WIC participants will save time at the checkout and can buy WIC foods in as many shopping trips as they need throughout the month. Participants may also have access to a new WICShopper Smart Phone App allowing them to scan a food’s bar code to determine if it is a WIC allowed food.

In order to prepare for this transition, WIC Nutrition Centers in the above listed counties will be closed for staff training from September 23 through September 30, 2019. WIC will re-open for appointments on October 1, 2019.

WIC provides services at over 250 clinic sites throughout Pennsylvania and serves approximately 205,000 pregnant women, infants and children under age 5. These WIC families shop at more than 1,500 Pennsylvania grocery stores and spend $248 million a year with their WIC food benefits.

“Maternal and Family Health Services is excited to offer a new, convenient way for our families to shop,” said MFHS President & CEO Bette Cox Saxton. “This enhancement of the WIC program will allow us to continue to provide high quality nutrition care to women and children in Northeast Pennsylvania.”

The Maternal and Family Health Services WIC Program has been offering participant-centered nutrition education, healthy food, breastfeeding support and has been serving as a gateway for preventative health for over 40 years.  It is considered one of the most successful, cost-effective and important nutrition intervention programs in the country. MFHS has WIC appointment openings. For more information about WIC, visit MFHS.org or pawic.com or call 1-800-367-6347 or 1-800-WIC-WINS. PA WIC is funded by the USDA. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

MFHS Seeking Nominations for the 2019 Rose Allan Tucker Award

Maternal and Family Health Services is seeking nominations for the Rose Allan Tucker Award, which will be presented at the agency’s 48th Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors and Community Awards Luncheon in mid-October at the Westmoreland Club in Wilkes-Barre.

The late Rose Tucker was a former Luzerne County Commissioner and long-time employee of MFHS.  She dedicated her life to public service as a community leader, political activist, health advocate, and champion for women, children and families in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  She opened doors for women to take leadership roles in the community and extended herself to help those in need.

Since 1996, MFHS has celebrated her legacy by presenting the Rose Tucker Award to a person who demonstrates a deep commitment to improving the quality of life for women, children and families in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  With her passing in 2009, the Rose Tucker Award has taken on even greater significance as it helps keep her legacy alive and serves as a reminder of Rose Tucker’s great contributions to the community.

Nominees for the award should demonstrate a long-term commitment to improving the quality of life in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and a significant positive impact on the health and welfare of women, children and families.

Nominations are being accepted online on the agency’s website or by calling 1-800-367-6347.  Deadline for submissions is August 21st, 2019.

eWIC is Coming Soon to MFHS!

The Pennsylvania Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program will be offering families a new way to shop for WIC food benefits using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (eWIC) card later this year. No more paper checks!

Maternal and Family Health Services WIC Nutrition Centers will transition to eWIC starting October 1, 2019, for families in Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.

In order to prepare for this transition, WIC Nutrition Centers in the above listed counties will be closed for staff training from September 23 through September 30, 2019. WIC will re-open for appointments on October 1, 2019.

With the eWIC card, shopping will be quick, easy and convenient for WIC families and their grocery stores. WIC participants will save time at the checkout and can buy WIC foods in as many shopping trips as they need throughout the month. Participants may also have access to a new WICShopper smart phone application, allowing them to see what is WIC allowable in Pennsylvania.

Appointments are available now at all locations throughout the MFHS WIC network. For more information about WIC, visit mfhs.org or call 1-800-367-6347.

 

WIC Nutrition Program Expands Income Guidelines

The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program has expanded income guidelines allowing more families to participate in the free nutrition education program.

According to the new income guidelines for WIC, beginning on July 1, 2019, a family of four could earn $47,638 annually and qualify for WIC. For a family of three, the income limit is $39,461 to qualify, and a family of two can earn up to $31,284 and qualify for nutrition assistance.  A complete list of income guidelines is available here.

The WIC Nutrition Program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and provides nutrition education and access to healthy foods for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children under 5.  To qualify, participants must meet the income guidelines, have a nutritional or medical need, and live in Pennsylvania.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

WIC provides participants with supplemental healthy foods which contain vital nutrients essential for healthy development during critical growth periods, such as pregnancy, infancy and early childhood.

WIC is the nation’s premier public health and nutrition education program with an overall goal to influence lifetime nutrition through positive health behaviors.  In addition to vouchers for nutritious foods, WIC participants receive nutrition education, breastfeeding support, immunization record checks, iron deficiency screening, farmers’ market vouchers and referrals for other health and social services.

For more information or to apply for WIC, visit www.mfhs.org, or call 1-800-367-6347.

WIC Smartphone Application

Are you a WIC participant?

Welcome to WICShopper! The app that lets you access your food list, recipes, benefits and so much more, all in one place. We integrate your Food List and other assets to create a user experience that is completely customized to you. WICShopper is a custom palette that ensures that you get the most out of your time in the WIC program.

How does it work?

  • Select your agency
  • Scan Products
    – Scan products as you shop to verify WIC eligibility.  In all states, the app will tell you if it is WIC eligible.
  • Yes or No
    – After scanning the app will tell you whether or not the item is WIC eligible

Its that simple! To download the app, click here for IPhones and click here for Andriods.

Click to enlarge

MFHS Annual Golf Tournament to be held June 13th

Maternal & Family Health Services’ 26th Annual Golf Tournament will be held on Thursday, June 13th at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club in Mountain Top. This annual golf tournament is an opportunity for golfers throughout Northeast Pennsylvania to enjoy a fun day while making a difference in the lives of women, children and families in Northeast Pennsylvania.

The MFHS Golf Tournament, open to all interested golfers, is a four person captain and crew format. The fee is $125 per person, $500 for a foursome, which includes the cart, green fees, lunch, barbecue dinner and refreshments. The golf tournament will be held rain or shine, with a shotgun start at 12:30 pm, and both men and women are invited. The top male and female flight will each win one of the grand prizes. In addition, the tournament will also feature a silent auction and various raffles during the day.

Motorworld, Wilkes-Barre, is sponsoring the hole-in-one contest at this year’s tournament. The hole-in-one prize is a new car and will go to the lucky golfer at the MFHS Tournament who gets a hole-in-one on the contest hole.

Individual golfers and sponsors provide monies that help strengthen MFHS and its health and nutrition programs that have served thousands of individuals in Northeast Pennsylvania for more than 40 years.  Maternal & Family Health Services focuses its efforts on improving the overall health and wellness of women, children and families in our communities.

To register or offer a sponsorship, visit the MFHS website MFHS.org. A variety of sponsorship opportunities are available for individuals and organizations who are interested in supporting MFHS in its mission.

Collaborating to Combat the Opioid Epidemic – Scranton Times Editorial

This exclusive op-ed from MFHS President & CEO Bette Cox Saxton ran in the Scranton Times Tribune on Sunday, May 5th.

Last year, Maternal & Family Health Services celebrated 45 years of its Maternity Program, which today is still delivering babies through its Healthy Beginnings Plus Program at Scranton’s MFHS Circle of Care site and Commonwealth Moses Taylor Hospital.  Of the newborns delivered at Moses Taylor last year, 93 percent were considered high-risk deliveries.

With this significantly growing percentage of high-risk deliveries, our organization could not ignore the increasing number of pregnant women with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) in our own programs and in our communities, particularly in Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Luzerne Counties.  The most recent data for Lackawanna and Luzerne counties reported that 150 newborns with Medicaid were born dependent on drugs, referred to as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).  Since that 2016 report, we have seen addicted mothers in our programs triple in numbers!

We recognize that addiction is a disease that demands a comprehensive, compassionate approach to support, treatment and recovery.  This means leveraging our interventions to serve mothers and their children within our program models as well as collaborating with community partners to effectively coordinate services for the mother, her baby and her family.

The collective impact in addressing serious and other community issues, which means that stakeholders can perform their respective roles optimally while also collaborating with each other effectively, is an increasingly important goal of ours as we address emerging community needs. We are striving to nurture a culture of collective impact so that non-profits, private and public funders collaborate and grow together to best serve the needs of the community.

Our primary goals are to ensure that women with OUD have access to Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) and related addiction services, and to develop the cross-system linkages necessary to ensure services are coordinated across the system of prevention, intervention and treatment. With these goals in mind, we have successfully embarked upon on key, collaborative initiatives in our efforts to address this very serious national health epidemic.

One such initiative, Healthy MOMS (Healthy Maternal Opioid Medical Support), a collaborative effort among seven regional organizations and government agencies, offers a comprehensive approach to provide care and treatment to new and pregnant moms with OUD in Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties, where the rate of hospitalized infants born dependent on drugs (NAS) in fiscal 2016 and 2017 was nearly twice the national average.

Healthy MOMS embraces a non-judgmental and community-based approach to care and connects pregnant women struggling with OUD with a network of providers offering a range of services, from prenatal and postpartum care, addiction treatment and more. The group’s vision was to develop one coordinated care plan for opioid addicted women in which strength of communications systems exists among its partners. The intended impact is a “no wrong door” approach to entering of care.

MFHS is providing prenatal, labor and delivery, gynecological care, nutrition and family support through home visits by the highly skilled nurses in our Nurse-Family Partnership program. Women who participate in Healthy MOMS receive support throughout their pregnancy, at the hospital and after giving birth. This support can also include assistance with housing, childcare, transportation, medically-assisted treatment, substance abuse counseling, case management, mental health counseling and medical care for mom and infant. Since the Healthy MOMS program began in the fall of 2018, 40 women  have enrolled in the program.

In another initiative taking place at our Circle of Care site in Scranton, MFHS is a member of a Behavioral Health Integration of Care model with five community partners that is being facilitated by Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. As a result of a grant from the Highmark Foundation, we added a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who is performing substance abuse and depression screenings for all of our family planning clients in Lackawanna County. We hope to replicate these evidenced-based screenings in other MFHS family planning centers and offer screening best practices to our interested network sub-recipients.

We also recently launched a school-based behavioral health project in Lackawanna County, spearheaded by a Masters Level Social Worker, who recently began screening middle school students and providing direct referrals as needed for behavioral health, substance abuse or reproductive health services.  Looking ahead, we have partnered in Geisinger Wyoming Valley’s forthcoming ‘Free 2B MOM’ project, in which MFHS Nurse-Family Partnership registered nurses will provide home visiting to recovering pregnant women.

In the final analysis, the opioid epidemic has hit our region particularly hard, and far too often it affects the lives of those most vulnerable, especially the young women, infants and families right here in our community. But we all must find solace in the fact that many like-minded organizations are seeing their way to contribute their individual resources and collaborate to ensure that the collective impact of our efforts truly do make a difference in this battle we are all committed to fight.

 

Regards,

Bette Cox Saxton
President & CEO
Maternal and Family Health Services

Governor Wolf Declares May WIC Month

May is WIC Month in Pennsylvania! May 2019 is the 45th year of WIC working to improving nutrition-related health and birth outcomes for women, infants and children throughout the commonwealth. The Allegheny County Health Department opened the first WIC clinic and issued the first WIC voucher on May 28, 1974.

This 45th anniversary year will be remembered for the implementation of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (eWIC) card for Pennsylvania WIC families to use their WIC food benefits. The dedication of state and local agency WIC staff, along with our contractors, has brought this to fruition.  WIC families involved with the pilot rollout in Blair, Centre, Clinton and Lycoming counties are excited about eWIC and have expressed their satisfaction. MFHS staff are looking forward to rolling out this new system in our service area in the fall.

Thank you Governor Wolfe for proclaiming May 2019 as WIC Month!  Click the image below to read the proclamation.

Berks County WIC Open House

Maternal and Family Health Services is partnering with Berks Community Health Center to hold a Mother’s Day open house at our new co-located Berks County WIC Nutrition Center. We will be offering a variety of activities including free haircuts provided by Great Clips, an interactive trailer provided by Aetna, crafts, face painting, community organization tables, tours of our facilities, refreshments and more!

Learn more about the event on our Facebook event page, and we hope you’ll join us this Saturday in Reading!

Announcing the 2019 WIC Public Meetings

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has scheduled 11 public meetings in conjunction with the development of the 2020 State Plan of Program Operations and Administration. The informal meetings are to record public comments and will not include a presentation of the WIC program; however, WIC resource materials will be available. The meetings will be held between 1 0 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the following dates:

  • May 1, 2019, Home Nursing Agency, 206 West Plank Drive, Altoona, PA 16602
  • May I, 2019, Maternal and Family Health Services, Inc., 15 Public Square, Suite 600, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
  • May I, 2019, South Central Community Action Program, Inc., 533 South Main St., Chambersburg, PA 1720 I
  • May 2, 2019, Chester County Government Services Building, 601 Westtown Road, Room 250, West Chester, PA 19380
  • May 2, 2019, UNFHCC Erie County WIC Program, 1720 Holland St., Erie, PA 16507
  • May 7, 2019, Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, Inc., 300 Chamber Plaza, Charleroi, PA 15022
  • May 21 , 2019, Bradford Area Public Library, 67 Washington St., Bradford, PA 16701
  • May 21,2019, NORTH, Inc. Philadelphia WIC Office, 1300 W. Lehigh Ave., Suite 104, Philadelphia, PA 19132
  • May 22, 2019, WIC of Beaver County, 140 Beaver Valley Mall, Rt. 18, Monaca, PA 15061
  • May 23, 2019, Hamilton Health Center, 110 S. 17th St., Harrisburg, PA 17104
  • May 30, 2019, Community Progress Council, Inc., 130 Market St., York, PA 17401

Individuals representing themselves or representing organizations and agencies are invited to present comments on any aspect of WIC Program operations. Anyone wishing to present comments during a meeting should call 717-783-1289 to register. Meetings are subject to cancellation without notice. People with disabilities who wish to attend the meetings may contact Amanda Killion 717-783-1289 to arrange for reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may submit written comments to the WIC State Agency by May 31, 2019. The email address is bmellott@pa.gov or the mailing address is:

Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Women, Infants and Children (WJC) 625 Forster St., 7 West, Health and Welfare Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120

For additional information, call Bonnie Mellott at 717-783-1289. Thank you for your interest and support of the Pennsylvania WIC Program.