Chelsea Merriman, right, visits the Taney County Health Department for WIC services with her mother Cheryl and 8-month-old daughter Allison.

If you are a new or expecting mother, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at the Taney County Health Department (TCHD) may be able to help ensure you and your children are healthy and happy.

WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children. It helps mothers and young children eat well and stay healthy. The program is for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or whose pregnancy recently ended as well as infants and children under 5 years old.

Chelsea Merriman, of Branson, visited the clinic with her 8-month-old daughter Allison.

“Financially, WIC has helped out a lot,” Merriman said. “My friend told me about WIC — when I got pregnant she told me to come get set up and it’s helped tremendously. We know she’s getting the proper foods nutritionally. Just for formula alone, the cost is outrageous. If you can’t do it on your own, definitely get help from WIC.”

WIC offers breastfeeding education and support, nutrition and health education, personalized nutrition counseling, referrals to other health programs, and checks to buy nutritious foods.

During a WIC appointment, you will visit with a nutritionist and receive suggestions and ideas about healthy eating for you and your children.

WIC Division Manager Tammy Drake said education is provided to all WIC participants, approximately 2,000 monthly.

“Topics vary depending on participants’ needs, but all education is conducted one on one,” she said. “It’s very participant-centered.”

Drake said the health department is designated as a breastfeeding-friendly WIC clinic.

“We promote breastfeeding as the preferred choice because of the health benefits for mom and baby,” she said.

Breastfeeding has a variety of benefits including but not limited to increased bonding, convenience, easier digestion for the baby, guaranteed freshness, healthier immune system for baby, protection against obesity, confidence for mother by knowing she can provide full nourishment for her child, healthier teeth for babies, weight loss for mother due to calories burned breastfeeding, and zero cost because breastmilk is always free, whereas formula becomes quite expensive.

“We offer breastfeeding classes and a mom-to-mom breastfeeding support group once a month,” Drake said.

There are income guidelines to qualify for WIC.

“If a participant qualifies for specific assistance programs, they automatically qualify for WIC services, regardless of income. Once you apply, as long as you’re income eligible, we usually can get individuals in within a week.”

Drake said each participant receives checks to take to local grocery stores to exchange for a variety of healthy foods high in iron, Vitamin C, protein, calcium and other key nutrients.

“A list of approved foods and monthly checks are provided— the amount can vary — regular checks are usually $75 average per child but it varies depending on the food package,” she said. “Milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as tortillas and cereal, eggs and juice are some of the staples.”

Bring proof of residency, proof of income and proof of identity to your WIC appointment.

The Taney County Health Department offers WIC services at both its locations: Branson, 417-334-4544 ext. 590; and Forsyth, 417-546-4725 ext. 321. Visit the Taney County Health Department website at

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