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The Boone County Health Department and the Maternal Child Health Advisory Council now offer a mobile health unit to bring WIC (Women, Infants and Children) services to local areas around Boone County. Karen Ceballos, CHES, Maternal Child Health Program coordinator, said she has seen the unit in action, and observed that participants have expressed “gratitude, surprise and relief” because the mobile health unit they are able to access services where they live, work and shop.

The Boone County Health Department and Maternal Child Health Advisory Council (MCH) have announced that a new mobile health unit is now bringing WIC (Women, Infants and Children) services to local areas around Boone County.

WIC is an income-based Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

According to Karen Ceballos, CHES, Maternal Child Health Program coordinator, the new mobile health unit was first obtained by the Boone County Health department with COVID-19 relief funds. The Boone County Health Department and MCH received a grant for $297,157 to implement the unit under a WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Project (WIC CIAO)—which is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture—to provide staffing, and purchase fuel and other materials to run the mobile health unit program.

She narrated how the mobile health unit is the size of a recreational vehicle, explaining, “It’s been fitted to be a mobile clinic.”

Ceballos further described that the vehicle has waiting and intake areas, as well as an exam room, to provide WIC services such as healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding counseling and referrals for other services.

The health department currently averages 300 visits a month, with a case load of 998 participants, including 211 pregnant and postpartum women, 230 infants up to age 1 year and 557 children up to age 5, according to a release from the health department.

The coordinator said the idea behind having a mobile health unit was, “We thought it was a great opportunity to take WIC services on the road.”

“Through our WIC on Wheels (WOW) mobile health clinic, we will take services to locations that our priority populations already frequent, such as grocery stores, faith-based organizations and food pantries,” Ceballos stated in the release, and she later emphasized that goal is “to take services to where our priority population frequents.”

She said the mobile health unit will be making scheduled visits around Boone County, at locations such as the Fiesta Market and Pacemaker Countryside Foods; food pantries such as Empower Boone and B1 Pantry; and to several faith-based organizations, such as St. John’s United Church of Christ and Willow Creek Church; and local park district locations.

Ceballos said the mobile health unit made stops once a week in September and roughly three times a week in October, and several stops are scheduled for November:

• Thursday, Nov. 9, 5-8 p.m. at Rivers Edge Recreation Center, 1151 W. Locust St., Belvidere.

• Wednesday, Nov. 15, 4-7 p.m. at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 401 N. Main St., Belvidere.

The health department and advisory council were selected “through a highly competitive grant process. “With the WIC CAIO funds, we will be able to take WIC services on the road aboard our new mobile health unit, help streamline referrals and community partnerships and better support our maternal child health population,” stated Amanda Mehl, public health administrator for the Boone County Health Department in a release. “We are proud to be part of this critical initiative to identify new ways of connecting people with WIC.”

Ceballos summed up that the goal of the mobile health unit initiative is not only to bring services to residents but also to promote awareness of the WIC program.

The health department states that as of 2020, only 50 percent of all eligible individuals in the United States were participating in WIC, “equating to a shortfall of almost 6 million individuals.”

For Ceballos, “The main point of our grant is to help reduce barriers,” she commented, adding, “And to give kids a healthy start.”

“We’re very lucky. We have a lot of investors who want this program to succeed,” she mentioned.

The WIC CIAO grant is effective from May 1, 2023, through Oct. 31, 2024, and is administered through a U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperative agreement with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, the Native American Agriculture Fund and UnidosUS.

For more information on upcoming mobile health unit visits, visit or call 815-547-8515. You can also visit and follow the links.

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