CoAction takes WIC support to the next level 

CoAction takes WIC support to the next level 

As Northwest Indiana’s local community action agency, CoAction serves anyone experiencing financial hardship from infancy to old age. A key component of this work is CoAction’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  

Operating as part of a federally funded program, CoAction’s team works diligently to provide WIC resources to all eligible children throughout Northwest Indiana.   

“People think the WIC program is only a formula program for low-income families,” said Maria Trajkov, WIC program manager. “WIC is so much more, and it is also great for working families.”  

As inflation and income levels change, so do the qualification levels for WIC. CoAction provides clear eligibility requirements on its website for community members to review.  

In addition to saving on formula, WIC provides qualifying families with hundreds of dollars of savings a year per child. These benefits last from infancy up to 5 years of age.  

"WIC has a strong record of preventing children’s health problems and improving their long-term health, growth, and development. In 2023, WIC served 10,401 adults in 10,208 households. Childhood WIC participation is associated with numerous positive health and cognitive outcomes. Children receiving WIC benefits are more likely to receive regular preventative health care. They consume more nutrient-dense foods that contribute to an overall better quality diet. Children participating in WIC fare better academically; cognitive benefits of WIC participation include higher vocabulary and reading scores and increased ability for numerical recall," said Jennifer Malone, Chief Services Officer. 

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers estimated that each WIC food package saved families between $50-$60 per month per child,” said Trajkov. “Today, with inflation, we estimate that it has gone up even more.”   

Income guidelines for WIC are updated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but CoAction makes sure that local residents can easily find out how to qualify.  

“We encourage people to check our landing page,” said Trajkov. “Many people think that they don’t qualify for the program because they may not be getting any other type of government assistance programs.” 

In fact, Trajkov and CoAction believe that, in the near future, even more people could benefit from the WIC program.  

“Within the next five years, we'll see a lot of good changes within our program,” said Trajkov.  

These changes could include increased income threshold for qualification and additional support.  

Today, in addition to providing formula, WIC offers access to a registered dietician, a lactation specialist, and additional wraparound services at no charge to clients.  

“Through our program, we have registered dieticians that can provide free nutrition counseling which would normally cost anywhere from $50 to $100,” said Trajkov. “In addition, we have international board-certified lactation consultants that provide one-on-one support to families enrolled in our WIC program after they have left the hospital.”   

To support the entire child, CoAction has also created partnerships with multiple local agencies to provide resources to clients.  

“We have partnerships with many different community partners,” said Trajkov. “If anyone needs assistance for maternal health, food banks, or nutrition education. For example, we can help them get connected to the right resource quickly."

CoAction’s WIC program is operated out of 11 locations throughout Northwest Indiana in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Jasper, and Pulaski counties. In addition to visiting one of the office locations, Trajkov’s team is taking resources to the community with its recent expansion. 

“Adding an outreach coordinator has been one of our agency's goals,” said Trajkov. "They are out in the community helping families connect with WIC.” 

CoAction’s WIC outreach coordinator is a key component of the team and is participating in local community events and making people aware of the benefits of WIC. 

"As the outreach coordinator, I thoroughly enjoy bringing vital WIC program information directly to community events. It's incredibly rewarding to see families discover the extensive benefits WIC offers beyond just financial support. Our goal is to ensure every eligible child in Northwest Indiana has access to nutritious food and essential services that promote their health and development," said Kiah Carter, WIC Outreach Coordinator.

Anyone interested in applying for WIC simply needs to supply proof of identification, immunization records, proof of address, and proof of income at their appointment.  

To learn more about CoAction’s WIC program and how to apply, please visit its website at coaction.care/wic