Brandon Lewis is pursuing his Masters of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. In February, he joined the Indiana Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) as a WIC Nutritionist. WIC is a public health nutrition program whose mission is to decrease infant mortality and protect the health of women, infants, and children by offering nutrition education, breastfeeding education and support, community referrals, fatherhood engagement, and supplemental foods to pregnant women, mothers, and children up to the age of five. One week after completing Lewis’ training, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closing of the office and he began working remotely to serve Marion County residents enrolled in the program.
Before COVID-19, a typical day would include interacting with clients at the WIC clinic to build relationships and provide resources to ensure children enrolled in the program receive adequate nutrition to meet developmental milestones. These services have changed dramatically due to the need for social distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s pretty fast-paced right now,” Lewis said. “Many of our clients are in high-risk population areas and disconnected from healthcare services. We are trying to serve as many clients as possible in a day, to ensure that our clients can get as many of the resources that they need.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Indiana WIC program in a number of ways. “Some of the resources that we would normally offer, we can’t anymore. A lot of parents rely on us to conduct lead testing for children between a year and 18 months of age, but we can’t do that right now, and that has been a big challenge.”
Additionally, Lewis shared that due to the economic impact of COVID-19, the organization has seen an increase in food insecurity, and he relies heavily on the Community Compass app to show clients where they can find food assistance in Marion County.
Lewis wants anyone who may need assistance during this time to know that there is help available. “A lot of household incomes have been impacted by the pandemic,” he said. “It is possible that a family may be eligible for WIC when they were not previously.”
He also wants individuals to know that they are not alone right now and several resources may be available.
“In addition to WIC, there are other social programs like SNAP, Medicaid, and TANF available to help.”
Indiana WIC remains committed to serving families and continuing daily operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are in need, find your local WIC clinic or contact the state WIC office at 1-800-522-0874.