The Louisiana Department of Health has worked with the USDA to provide emergency food assistance for those affected by the BP oil spill through the WIC nutrition program.

Under new rules, proposed by LDH's Office of Public Health and approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), people who have lost jobs or sources of income due to the disaster will be able to participate in a streamlined eligibility screening process to receive WIC assistance.

WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which is federally funded by the USDA. The program provides nutrition education and specific food benefits based on nutrients demonstrated to be low in the diets of low-income people, including juice (single strength), milk, breakfast cereal, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread, fish (canned), legumes (dry or canned), and peanut butter.

Under the emergency rules, clinics in the affected areas have been directed to serve individuals as walk-in appointments with minimal waiting time. The WIC clinic in Plaquemines Parish will be open today, Friday, May 7, and will provide extended hours-the clinic will not end until everyone has been served. It is located at 26851 Highway 23 in Port Sulphur, and can be reached by phone at (504) 564-3344.

The St. Bernard Parish WIC clinic, which is located at 8201 W. Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette, will also be offering walk-in service (no appointment necessary) today, Friday, May 7, as needed. Infant formula samples will be given if needed. Additional clinics will be offering the streamlined process where necessary based upon the movement of the oil slick and the number of impacted residents.

Due to the small number of WIC authorized vendors and their location in Plaquemines Parish, infants will receive sample standard infant formula at the clinic for the month of May (on a non-negotiable food instrument) and food instruments will be given for subsequent months of service. The WIC authorized vendors are as follows:

Balestra's Food Center, 7902 Hwy 23, Belle Chasse, LA 70037
Fremin's Food Market, 26277 Hwy 23, Port Sulphur, LA 70083
In other affected areas, LDH's Office of Public Health staff is reaching out to potential WIC recipients by participating in outreach efforts run by local authorities and organizations and educating those in impacted communities about WIC program benefits. Participants in those parishes will receive their vouchers within the next 24 hours as food vouchers are printed at the Crescent City clinic and driven to the Plaquemines clinic to provide expedited access.