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Several counties in Missouri now offer WIC services on the go

Courtesy of the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services

The Saline County and Taney County Health Departments have recently begun offering WIC clinics to their communities on large buses with built-in exam rooms.

WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for those who are pregnant, postpartum up to six months and breastfeeding up to one year, as well as infants and children up to the age of five.

According to Missouri WIC, “Fathers, grandparents, guardians, and foster parents may also apply for benefits for the children living in their household.”

Tara Brewer, the administrator of the Saline County Health Department, said transportation in her rural county can be a huge barrier for people already enrolled WIC and for those who might apply.

“I think of a mother that has three children, having to drag them in and out of the car, travel 20, 30 minutes,” Brewer said. “When we're there, a lot of the time, folks just walk straight to the bus and come in and see us.”

Courtesy of the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services

The new mobile clinic unit is a 27-foot bus that has two private exam rooms to be used for one-on-one physical exams for children, breastfeeding consolations or nutrition counseling.

“We just want everyone to feel comfortable and get the help that they need,” Brewer said.

The mobile unit is currently offering clinics in two of the larger communities in Saline County – Sweet Springs and Slater, but Brewer said they will offer additional locations and services to the mobile unit in the coming months, like vaccinations at schools and access to Narcan – an opioid overdose reversal medication.

Anne Strope, the administrative coordinator for the Missouri WIC program, agreed the new mobile WIC clinics are a great way to overcome transportation barriers, but they also can help combat stigma.

She said it's because some of their clients “just can't take off a work sometimes and travel half hour to get to a clinic and half hour back,” Strope said. "And we think that it's a great thing that these mobile clinics are doing."

Strope added she believes more communities will adopt the mobile WIC clinic units in the future.

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about Missouri WIC, you can visit wic.mo.gov or call TEL-LINK at 1-800-835-5465 to find the WIC local agency closest to you.

Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.
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