The Gila County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement accepting more than a $1 million federal grant, which will be used to provide pregnant mothers and infants with milk and other basic necessities for the next five years.
Gila County serves about 1,000 pregnant mothers and infants each year, and approximately 300 of those are in the Payson area, said Ursula Donavan, Nutrition Services Program Manager.
Donavan said the staff tries to keep the Payson office open five days a week, but it sometimes is not possible.
On Oct. 9, the board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Gila County Division of Health and Community Services and the (Women Infants and Children) WIC program to allow access to federal grant money of $212,833 annually to keep the WIC program alive, board member Shirley Dawson said.
Gila County Health Department Director Dave Fletcher said the county division of WIC would receive the grant money each year for the next five years to cover administrative costs and salaries.
"This money is divided among all WIC agencies in the county to keep our offices open and running," said Donavan.
She said the Payson branch of WIC will get about $70,000 of the grant money each year to cover its operating costs from 2007 to 2012.
"Specifically, some of the money will go for wages," she said. "We have two assistants in the Globe office and one in Payson, and some will go for community education programs, blood testing equipment, latex gloves and any other operational and administrative costs."
Some of the money would be used to cover travel costs as well, Donavan said.
"I travel to and from Payson pretty regularly to see clients and oversee the basic operations of the program, so a portion of the money will cover some of that," Donavan said.
WIC is a nutrition education and food supplement program permanently authorized in 1975 by the USDA (United Sates Department of Agriculture) Food and Nutrition Service.
WIC provides education to pregnant mothers about healthy pregnancies and also offers food vouchers to qualifying pregnant women and mothers of infants.
Donavan said the Gila County Health Department tries to provide the WIC program as much help as they are able.
"They let us use their cars and other vehicles as much as they can and only charge us minimal rent for our offices," Donavan said.
She said all of the help from the district is definitely a key ingredient in keeping the program alive in Payson and other areas where funding can be limited.
"We only have one person running the office in Payson, and sometimes she can't go in for whatever reason, but representatives can always be reached at the district offices," Donavan said.
For more information on the WIC program in Gila County and Payson, call the in-state toll-free number at 1-800-252-5WIC or 1-800-252-5942.
The Gila County office can be reached at 1-928- 402-8815, or call the Payson branch at 928- 474-7181, or visit the WIC Web site at http://www.fns.usda.gov/ wic/.