HINTON, WV (WVNS) – Increased costs of food and supply-chain issues were listed as primary reasons for the West Virginia WIC program’s cash-value benefits increase.

Jo Ann Miller, a former pediatric nurse and now Family Support Program Director with REACHH in Summers County said infants especially, need access to healthy foods.

“The main reason they need the proper nutrition is brain development. Those fats in formula and, of course, breast milk, really are the stepping stones of brain development,” Miller told 59News.

Mothers who are breastfeeding also received an increase in WIC funding. Miller added they need access to healthy options too. Not only because everything they eat goes into the baby’s milk, but also because they need enough calories to sustain both the baby and themselves.

“They are now going to offer moms more possibilities for food. But it’s very important that they eat because when you need all those extra calories you’ve got to get them in somehow. So anything you can put in your body that’s nutritious and healthy, do it,” said Miller.

Benefits also increased for pregnant women, even those who are not planning to breastfeed. Miller said a healthy diet during pregnancy is crucial for both the pregnant woman and the child.

“That baby is developing. That baby’s brain is growing inside that belly. They need to eat well,” said Miller. “A balanced diet is the best thing in the world you can do to have a healthy baby.”