WIC Helps Keep Families Healthy

By Susan Krahn, MS, RDN, CD, CLC – Public Health Nutritionist, Eau Claire City-County Health Department

What does healthy eating mean to you? To the WIC Program, healthy eating means healthier moms and babies, happier families, and brighter futures. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program is a public health nutrition program that provides wholesome foods, nutrition and breastfeeding education, and community support for low- and moderate-income women and children up to the age of five years.

There are more women in our community who benefit from WIC than you may think. In fact, over half of the babies born in the United States use the WIC program. WIC is the nation’s most successful and cost-effective public health nutrition program. Nationally, we know that when eligible families use WIC:

  • Moms are less likely to have premature or low birth-weight babies;
  • Moms are more likely to start breastfeeding after delivery;
  • Infants and children are twice as likely to see doctors for well-child care;
  • Moms, children, and infants are less likely to have anemia.

If you think your family may be eligible, contact your local WIC office. A visit to WIC means you will walk away with an EBT card to buy more healthy food for your family. But, did you know that WIC means much more than food? At a WIC appointment, parents are connected with people who truly care about the health and well-being of their children. Parents walk away with the feeling of support, connections to healthcare resources, and inspiration to make healthy changes in their home.

WIC gives you healthy food and teaches you how to use it. Good nutrition during pregnancy and in the first few years of life has long-term positive impacts on health. WIC teaches you about the benefits of breastfeeding and guides you through the process. WIC gives you free healthy food and teaches you how to shop for it, how to prepare it, and ways to help your child enjoy eating it.

We provide a community of support. At WIC you’ll find dietitians, a breastfeeding peer counselor, and others ready to listen, share information, and give guidance and support. WIC is a network built for moms. We connect them, we educate them, and we learn from them.

We connect you to care beyond WIC. Food and nutrition are only one piece of a healthy lifestyle. Through referrals we can connect you with resources outside of WIC, including public health nurses, doctors, dental services, immunization services, and social services. Referrals put you in touch with the care or resources you need to be healthy in every part of your life.

For more information, go to www.ci.eau-claire.wi.us/departments/health-department/wic/how-where-to-use-wic, visit the program office at 720 2nd Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54703, or call (715) 839-5051.

Ta-Da! Dinner is DONE! Meals from Together Farms

by Stephanie Schneider, Together Farms

Imagine it. You walk in the house to the tantalizing aroma of a meal that is nourishing and ready to eat. Instead of hearing “What’s for supper?” or “Can I have a snack?” you hear “Mmmmm…what is that yummy smell?!” and “I’ll set the table!” as everyone shifts into supper mode instead of starving-while-waiting-for-supper mode. Having a dinner that is cooked and ready to be dished up as soon as you get home completely shifts the entire dynamic of how evenings usually play out, taking it from one of stress, chaos, and frustration to one of calm, contentment, and happiness!

Time and organization are also required to feed the family well. After years of frustration and trying different methods, I finally came across the system that worked for me: freezer to slow cooker meals!

The beautiful thing about freezer to slow cooker meals is that you are not cooking them before you freeze them, so they don’t taste like leftovers. You are just labeling a bag, prepping, and freezing. Then, when you need a break from figuring out what everyone should eat, you just pull it out and put it to work.

Here are some of the benefits:

There are no limits. The options are extremely versatile in flavors and meat types and cuts. They can be complete all-in-one meals or just meat and sauce.

Your brain gets a break. I struggle most with making the decision of what to eat. As you know, the classic response of “I don’t know” and “I don’t care” are less than helpful.

No struggle with allergens. All the meals we offer are free from most allergens, including gluten and dairy with soy-free an option too!

Lose weight. I’m not making any promises here, but I lost a lot of weight when I started really relying on these meals. If nothing else, you’ll feel so much better eating home-cooked, no-weird-stuff meals than fast-food crap full of unpronounceable ingredients using meat filled with hormones and antibiotics.

Get out of a cooking rut. Do you keep recycling the same recipes over and over again and need to try something different? Together Farms’ meals are changed frequently, and we currently have eleven different options available in the store.

Enjoy guilt-free ingredients. We use our own high-quality meats, certified organic vegetables, spices, and sauces.

Labels that help. Each meal you receive will have a waterproof label on it explaining how to cook it, showing all the ingredients, and suggesting ways to serve it as well as side dish ideas.

Customized for you. Hate green peppers? Ingredients can be left out at your request.

They make the perfect gift. Struggling to find something a new mom can actually use? Or, maybe you want to prepare before the baby comes? You can stock up now on finished meals to take the stress and worry out of cooking once the new baby arrives.

Pro tip: Moms usually get bombarded with way too much food, help, and attention in the first week or two after baby arrives. The freezer meals are happy to wait in the freezer until she runs out of (or throws out) all the chicken soup.

Host a Party
Get our ebooks and either have a big meal prep day or make it part of your baby shower. Or, leave all the work to us and call/text or email Stephanie today to set up your own private party.

Meals Currently in Stock
Beef Tips with Mushroom Gravy, Chicken Curry, Chicken Fajitas, Jalapeno-Lime Shredded Pork, Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps, Lemon Chicken, Pork Carnitas, Pork Ramen, Sausage & Peppers, Southwestern Pork Chili, Steak Fajitas, Teriyaki Pork Chops.

Order for you (or someone you love) TODAY!
Visit togetherfarms.grazecart.com/store/freezer-meals.

Quality Eats Lead to Quality Zzzs

By Bethany Soderlund, dietetic intern, Festival Foods

Sleep is a key lifestyle factor that can positively or negatively affect our health. When it comes to sleep, the quantity and quality of those resting hours make all the difference. Whether you struggle to fall asleep every once in a while or it seems to be a chronic issue, finding a solution will greatly benefit your mood and ability to function throughout the day. Did you know food and nutrition can play a key role in the quality of your sleep?

The quantity, quality, and timing of meals can positively or negatively impact your sleep. First let’s look at how food can disrupt our sleep. Large meals, high fat or high protein meals, and spicy foods during the day, and especially before bed, may cause gastroesophageal reflux, or heartburn, which is a potential sleep disrupter. Many foods also contain substances that act as stimulants to the brain including alcohol, caffeine, and tyramine.

Alcohol before bed can cause frequent sleep disruptions, headaches, and less restful sleep, so it is best to avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime. For many Americans, caffeine is the life-sustaining liquid that flows through their veins. Whether a cup of coffee, energy drink, or soda, the high levels of caffeine consumed during the day can lead to a night of tossing and turning. For optimal sleep, avoid consuming caffeine four to six hours before bedtime. Another potentially problematic component is tyramine. It is a naturally occurring substance derived from the amino acid tyrosine that causes a brain-stimulating effect. Some of the tyramine-containing foods to minimize or avoid before bed include bacon, ham, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado, nuts, soy sauce, and red wine.

Fortunately, not all foods are sleep disrupters. In fact, some foods can actually be sleep promoters. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts to increase the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of deep sleep. Meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, bananas, and honey are some of the sources of tryptophan. Carbohydrate foods help increase tryptophan’s access to the brain. What does this mean for your meal plan? In general, eating a balanced diet containing protein at each meal during the day and a small snack one to four hours before bed will promote this normal body physiology to increase the stages of deep sleep. Example bedtime snacks include yogurt and crackers, wheat toast and cheese, and cereal and milk. Just remember to keep your portion sizes small to help avoid sleep disturbances.

Sleep is a key element of a healthy lifestyle that can affect mood and productivity during the day. Our food choices and the timing of those food choices can be the difference between counting sheep and a deep restful night’s sleep. Whether you opt for two cups of coffee instead of three or switch your bedtime snack from hot wings to a glass of milk, small changes each day can get you on the right track to waking up energized and rejuvenated.

Bethany Soderlund is a dietetic intern with the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay and is currently working with the Mealtime Mentors at Festival Foods. Learn more about Festival’s registered dietitian team and their many resources and recipes at FestFoods.com/Mealtime.

What About Donating Half Your CSA Share to Help Fight Hunger Locally?

Who Is Rachel Keniston?
Rachel Keniston has been concerned about food insecurity in Eau Claire, working at the Community Table since 2008, becoming its director in 2010, and recently retiring from it. “Food is one of our most basic needs, regardless of our financial situation,” she says.

While she worked at Community Table, Keniston and her family were building a sustainable agriculture farm, Solheim Market Gardens, using permaculture principles, with the mission to grow clean, fresh local produce in ways that respect and build the soil with minimal mechanical cultivation, hoes and hands for weed control, crop rotation and row covers to minimize pest issues. To Keniston and her family, the farm too is part of community building. “We all need healthy food regardless of our income levels. Our community (country and world) also need more small local food producers. It is important that our food not be traveling from all ends of the world, that it not be sprayed with chemicals. The way we grow food is important.”

One of the goals with Solheim Market Gardens was to eventually have a community supported agriculture program. In studying CSA good practices, Keniston was given the advice to not put too much food in the weekly share box. “People feel guilty if they can’t use it all,” she says. “None of us likes to throw good food away. The up side of partnering with a farmer through CSA is that people do eat more vegetables! But too much waste is the number one reason people give for dropping a CSA share.” Keniston read about a farm in Monroe, Wisconsin, that is a nonprofit that grows produce specifically for Feeding America, which distributes produce to food banks. She explains, “Instead of providing shareholders with produce, they grow to give to the food bank. Shareholders can also make donations to help purchase seed, equipment, and labor.”

What Is Her New Idea to Fight Local Food Insecurity?
While pondering both her concern for those experiencing food insecurity and her CSA goals, a light went off in her head. “I started to wonder if it would be possible to offer shareholders the option of subscribing to half a share but then donating the other half to Feed My People Food Bank, which would welcome more produce to share with those in need.” She describes how this would work: “First, could the farmer grow a crop specifically to be donated to a food bank for the food insecure? Yes, of course, but most farmers producing at this level are barely making ends meet themselves. That donation from a farmer would be a little like the poor feeding the poor. My thought was if people are willing to partner with the farmer to help create an economically stable farm operation where members are assured the highest quality produce, then maybe they’d be willing to help the farmer and the food bank by subscribing to a full share but donating half to the food bank.” If thirty half boxes of produce were donated weekly, that would be a big help to Feed My People and to the people coming to the food bank. The farmer could plan ahead of time to grow a large bed of certain vegetables for just that purpose. She explains, “At the end of the season, shareholders who donated could be notified of the total weight of produce they donated and the monetary market value of that produce. This could be used for tax documentation.”

Keniston has high hopes for the project, saying, “If it works this growing season, we would like to expand the effort and encourage other local farmers to join in.”

For more information and to sign up to donate a half share, visit www.solheimwi.com or www.facebook.com/solheim.wi.