Creating a Healthier Community: RiverStone Health WIC

February 2024

article by rebecca stewart | photos courtesy of RiverStone Health WIC

Odds are, you've heard of WIC, but you may only have a vague understanding of what it is, who it serves, and how it benefits our community at large. We chatted with Kate Monger, MPH, RDN, the WIC and Family Health Services Program Manager at RiverStone Health, to better understand the RiverStone Health WIC program.  

Baseline information:  
  • WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.  
  • RiverStone Health WIC is currently serving nearly 3,000 new or expecting moms, babies, and children under the age of 5 in Yellowstone, Carbon, Stillwater, and Musselshell counties. 
  • Eligibility is determined by income- at or below 185% of the federal poverty line. Anyone receiving SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid also automatically qualifies for WIC, but it's important to note that WIC has a broader income range than those programs. "It's a low- and middle-income program," says Kate.   
  • Education is a vital component of WIC.

Could RiverStone Health WIC benefit you?  

We all know that it can be challenging to ask for help, but at one point or another, everyone needs some help. What kind of help differs from person to person, but there is no shame in asking for and receiving a helping hand, whether mowing a lawn or accepting community resources, perhaps most especially when we're looking to get a hand up for our children. Kate emphasizes that the team at RiverStone Health WIC is "really non-judgmental and welcoming and inviting, so if anyone has a kiddo in their care and thinks they may qualify for WIC, please don't hesitate to call us."   

Though women are right there in the name, WIC is not only for women raising children – dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, or foster parents could also apply to receive WIC benefits for their children. (Children in foster care automatically qualify, FYI.) As noted, pregnant, new, and breastfeeding moms are eligible to receive WIC benefits alongside their children. Because of WIC's broader income guidelines, people might qualify for these services and not even realize it, so it's worth looking into.  

What can I expect from RiverStone Health WIC? 

First, you're going to either call or email to make an appointment to see if you qualify for WIC.  

  • 406.247.3370 |  

Kate explains that once a participant is determined to qualify and is enrolled with WIC, they'll be scheduled for an initial certification into RiverStone Health's WIC program that occurs annually. This entails:  

  • Sitting down with a WIC Nutrition Educator who will run through the health history and nutrition screening, as well as a screening for resources they may need to be connected to. (Registered Dietitians are also on staff for participants with higher-risk nutritional needs.)  
  • Once enrolled and assessment is completed, a WIC food package* is built for them, and they'll receive a card that they can take to WIC-approved grocery stores (Walmart, Albertsons, Town & Country, IGA, and WinCo), along with the South Park Gardeners' Market in the summer and participating vendors of other Farmers' Markets and stands.  

*Food packages are created based on category, so a pregnant mom's package will differ from a breastfeeding mom's and an infant's from a toddler's.  

  • WIC is a goal-based program, so the family is invited to set a goal for themselves or their child's health, nutrition, or resource needs at the first visit.  
  • WIC touches base with the families once every 3 months, either in-office or by phone, when they follow up on the goals, provide a nutrition education topic, and, every 6 months, check the kids' heights, weights, and hemoglobins.  

The nutritional topics, explains Kate, might include, for a pregnant mom, "…At her next visit we might talk about folic acid needs, then we might talk about strategies for how to increase her fruits and vegetables intake, or we might talk about calcium or way ways to increase dairy intake if that piece is low, but it would really be tailored to her nutrition assessment and go from there." For the kids, she shares, "We might be talking to the parents about tips to get them to help out in the kitchen or ways to include toddlers; we might talk about picky eating and things like that."

In case you didn't know: A woman could qualify for WIC as soon as she knows she's pregnant. Whether she's seen a doctor or not, she can come in, determine if she qualifies, and receive benefits within 10 days of that qualifying appointment.

For breastfeeding mamas or moms who have identified breastfeeding as one of their goals, they have access to RiverStone Health WIC's Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program. The peer counselor is a mom who has been on WIC and breastfed her own child. Kate shares that, in addition to the relatability factor, "the other cool thing about Hannah, our peer counselor, is she's on-call all hours of the day, including weekends. So, if a mom is having breastfeeding trouble, has a question, or just needs to run something by someone, that's the go-to person for those moms to reach out to." Recognizing that breastfeeding can be a sensitive topic, Kate assures that WIC will support moms in whatever their goals are for feeding their child.  

RiverStone Health WIC and its impact on our community 

RiverStone Health WIC's services aim to create a solid foundation of improved health outcomes for the children of our community. Kate emphasizes the improved access to healthy foods for the vulnerable in our community and the goal of reaching moms early in their pregnancies to deliver education sooner rather than later. Particularly because she notes that research indicates that WIC has been shown to reduce infant mortality rates across the nation, it is a program she says, "Overall, it just makes our community healthier." Our job in the community? Be educated and be aware so that we can help erase the stigma of utilizing these much-needed resources.   

Originally printed in the February 2024 issue of Simply Local Magazine

Never miss an issue, check out SLM's digital editions here!  

related articles: 

Get local updates, events and special offers!

Local Events