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SB County Women, Infants and Children program aims to support families during pandemic

Katie Nichols

In Santa Barbara County, pregnant mothers and families with limited incomes — including migrant and military families — may qualify for assistance under the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

The program provides nutrition education and other services like helping families buy healthy food and referring them to other free services in the county.

Brenda Alejo with Santa Barbara County WIDC said the program is meant to help a wide range of family types.

“It’s not just pregnant moms or breastfeeding moms. We have an array of foster families, and we have a lot of single dads that come in as well,” Alejo said.

According to Alejo, that also includes migrant and farmworker families in Santa Barbara County who may not speak English.

“Right now we have a large Mixteco-speaking population as well, so we do have one person in our office that does indigenous speaking.”

Alejo said families that qualify for WIC can also have their benefits transferred if they leave the county.

“For example, our military participants can use their benefits throughout California, so if for whatever reason they’re transferred to another county, they can take their benefits and use them there,” Alejo said.

Alejo encourages people to apply for assistance, even if they think they might not qualify.

“So we always encourage participants to make that first appointment. Don’t get discouraged, don’t think that you’re not going to qualify. For the most part, most people do qualify.”

According to Alejo, the program has been ongoing throughout the pandemic, and offers remote services.

More information on WIC is available here.

Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.