WIC Day celebration held at Heritage Park in Holyoke

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Families across the state paid tribute to the program that’s provided nutritional advice to young parents for almost 50 years.

Holyoke’s Heritage State Park visitor center became a showplace to celebrate the many ways the Women’s, Infants, and Children’s program, better known as WIC, has assisted thousands of young parents in western Massachusetts.

The Valley Opportunity Council administers the federal-and-state financed program that provides food and nutrition services to help young parents bring up healthy children.

WIC assists some 4,000 parents in Holyoke. Jaritza Mendoza vividly recalls how WIC helped her when she was a very young mother.

“I didn’t know much about babies, the program was helpful, helped me with everything and provided,” Mendoza said.

It’s been 13 years since Andrea Desjardins began helping parents learn about preparing healthy meals. Desjardins found her work very rewarding.

“Our participants are warm, are giving, they want to talk to us, they have lots of love for their children, they take care of each other, they just need a little bit of help,” said Desjardins.

This was a day of celebration that included riding on the Heritage State Park merry-go-round.

Some measured WIC’s success by the number of parents who later, when their children were grown, went on to serve in various capacities from volunteers to community organizers.

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