News Release

8/30/00

HDHHS to open new WIC site in Gulfgate area

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will open a new Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) service site Sept. 18 in the Gulfgate area, accommoda-ting residents now traveling outside their community for nutritional assistance and health care referrals.

The Gulfgate Community WIC Center, located at 7550 Office City Drive, will open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Staff members will screen residents for program eligibility, provide nutritional education to individuals and groups and distribute food vouchers.

Staff also will make referrals to medical and dental services, prenatal care, early childhood intervention, family planning, parenting and literacy classes, temporary assistance, school and summer lunch programs, food pantries, job banks and shelters. Referral programs include Head Start, Medicaid, Texas Health Steps - EPSDT and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"We are taking services to a needy community," said Faye M. Walker, chief of HDHHS' Bureau of WIC Nutrition Services. "Residents living near the new center are going to other communities to receive services. Our new center will make allied health services more accessible for them and others who are eligible, but not yet enrolled in WIC programs."

Walker said WIC's goal is to reduce premature births, low birth weight, the fetal death rate and long-term medical expenses by targeting services to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, women who have given birth in the last six months and children up to age five who have nutrition health-related problems. HDHHS' WIC program, the second largest in the nation, monthly provides services to about 70,000 women and infants.

Most residents in the Gulfgate area access WIC services through Ripley House WIC, about five miles north of the new site. Ripley House will cease dental and WIC services August 31 and refer participants to either Gulfgate WIC Community Center or the Eastwood WIC Center site, scheduled to open at 412 Telephone Road on October 1.

The Gulfgate Community WIC Center site will house staff members able to assist Spanish speaking clients. The center will be located within the Harris County Hospital District's Gulfgate Community Health Center.

Applicants need to provide identification and proof of residency for an approved WIC service area. Staff will verify that applicants do not exceed statewide income standards and determine if they are at medical and nutritional risk.

A woman with an annual income of less than $15,488 qualifies for WIC services as well as a family of four with an annual income of less than $31,543. Single fathers, grandparents and foster parents may be eligible for WIC services for their children.

Houston and Harris County residents may request eligibility screening or may receive WIC referrals by any dietitian/nutritionist, nurse or physician from any health or medical facility, public or private, in the county.

Once eligibility is determined, participants receive counseling, nutrition education, and vouchers for foods supplying significant amounts of protein, iron, vitamin C, calcium and other nutrients needed for proper growth and development. Each participating infant or child and their siblings receive immunizations at no cost.

Residents may call 713-794-9090 to schedule a screening or locate the nearest WIC site.