Since 1975, we have addressed health needs of our South Los Angeles participants.
National WIC Program In the early ‘70s, a study of infant mortality in Mississippi revealed the fact that poor pregnant women and infants were malnourished. Media coverage of the study drew attention to the national problem of hunger, and in 1974 Congress responded by legislating what is now the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Our History When our WIC program was established in 1975, we began providing checks for nutritious foods to eligible South LA residents. Shortly thereafter, Steve Baranov became the director and continued to serve in this position for 37 years. In late 2012 he retired, and Heidi Kent became executive director. We have expanded from the WIC program to several programs and from 10 employees to 260. Read more about our WIC program here>>
Our Host Agency In 1985, our host agency changed from the Professional Staff Association Foundation at Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital to the Research and Education Institute at Harbor-UCLA (REI). In 2004 REI became Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed). Read more about LA BioMed here>>
Our Growth In the late 1970s we served approximately 8,000 WIC participants monthly in public health centers, churches, libraries and community centers. Today we manage 11 dedicated WIC centers serving approximately 95,000 participants monthly in a service area with more than one million residents. Read our WIC Overview here>>
When we expanded to several programs, we adopted the name South Los Angeles Health Projects.
Responding to Vaccine-Preventable Illnesses After a measles epidemic in Los Angeles County and much of the nation (‘89-’91), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sponsored a national study that showed poor children, including those participating in WIC, were disproportionately affected by measles. We responded by promoting childhood immunization through our WIC program in 1993. Later, through the Immunize LA Families program, our education and promotion efforts expanded to include adults.
We do not immunize children or adults. We encourage people to be immunized by their primary care physician or at their community clinic. We also promote immunization provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at community venues such as parks, senior centers and churches. Read our Immunization Overview here>>
Responding to “Poor Birth Outcomes” In our community, a disproportionate number of infants are born premature and with low birth weight. To address the problem, in 2005 we organized the South LA Best Babies Collaborative (SLABBC), funded by First 5 LA, and served as the collaborative’s lead partner.
For several years, we and our SLABBC partners provided intensive case management, referrals and opportunities for further health education. We assisted hundreds of women during pregnancy, during their infant’s first two years and in some cases between the birth of one infant and the next pregnancy. Many adopted healthier lifestyles, and most of the SLABBC participants who subsequently gave birth delivered healthy babies.