Archive for Thursday, December 27, 2007

WIC grocery stores forced to close

Program provides vouchers to poor women and children

December 27, 2007


— A change in federal rules has forced the closing of three Kansas groceries that served only participants in the Women, Infants and Children program.

The last of the three stores, the Family Nutrition Center in east Topeka, closed Saturday. The other two stores were in Garden City and Kansas City, and all three were owned by David Criswell.

Criswell said he was forced to close the stores because the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered reimbursement rates for small stores like his in 2006.

"I think their whole goal was to put small stores out of business," he said.

The Agriculture Department said its rule change could prevent participants in the WIC program from paying higher costs for food at WIC-only stores than at other groceries. In issuing its rule, the department said the change was designed to "maximize the number of eligible women, infants and children served with available federal funding."

WIC serves poor, single parents, pregnant women, and children under 6, by providing vouchers to purchase certain food items. Participants can buy the items at grocery stores and other retailers, such as Wal-Mart.

Before the new rule, WIC vendors fell into one of six pricing levels. The smaller stores, such as Family Nutrition, were reimbursed more, while other, larger stores with economies of scale received less because their products cost less.

In Kansas, reimbursement rates for smaller stores are based on the average rate for the larger ones. Criswell said Family Nutrition in Topeka often was reimbursed less than it paid for certain items.

"How were we supposed to survive?" he asked. "This is just un-American."

More than 600 patrons of the Topeka store signed a petition protesting the new rule. Many described the store as convenient and friendly.

For many of the Spanish-speaking store patrons, having a Spanish-speaking worker was a plus, said Jorge Escalante, the Topeka store manager.


geekin_topekan 10 years, 6 months ago

I understand the frustration and am angered that Wallyworld has forced another small business to close. But,there is a note of irony here.One that I never clearly understood. On the marquee at his Topeka store he would constantly and cosistantly post anti-Bush slogans!I am not a Bushy myself and smiled at this public display in such a backwards a$$ed town,but it always would strike me as rather....hypocritical?Biting the hands that feed?Placing your livelyhood on the Government and then dissing it at the same time? I doubt that his slogans had any bearing on WIC's decision to not reimburse him the desired amount but it seems he let the doorknob poke him in the arse.

Paul R Getto 10 years, 6 months ago

Sad; we need to feed the babies and keep their mommies healthy.

countrygirl 10 years, 6 months ago

Can't WIC users use their vouchers at most grocery stores? So while it's sad to see the smaller stores closing, it's not like any of the people who use the program aren't going to be able to get what they need from it.

geekin_topekan 10 years, 6 months ago

Defender,the reason I say this is because it was reported last week in CJonline and Wallyworld was SPECIFICALLY mentioned as the prefered recipient of the contract. Sorry your world doen't reach any further than your nose.God I hate simple minds.

countrygirl 10 years, 6 months ago

offtotheright-- I think you have WIC confused the the Vision Card. I understand your frustration, but WIC has set items that you receive vouchers for. It's stuff like milk, juice and cereals and the brands have be on a list in order to be able to use the voucher to get it. I'm pretty sure you can't get steak and shrimp with WIC vouchers.

gaiapapaya 10 years, 6 months ago

WIC is an excellent program. The participants only receive targeted foods. These include peanut butter, beans, eggs, 100% juice, carrots, milk, breakfast cereal w/o lots of sugar, rice cereal for babies, and infant formula. WIC heavily encourages breastfeeding of infants. The program is only available for pregnant and nursing mothers and children up to the age of 5. At that point federal school lunch program kicks in and those kids are eligible for free or reduced lunches at school.

Participants are required to attend nutrition education so they can make sound choices on family diets and exercise. They are required to purchase the least expensive brand of food allowed on their vouchers to form a better family food budget.

Many families are ashamed of needing assistance to feed their infants/toddlers/pre-schoolers. I have seen moms shopping at midnight to keep their peers from knowing they are using WIC vouchers. There is nothing shameful about providing your children with good foods.

I think WIC stores are an excellent idea because the participant doesn't have to search for the least expensive brand (what's on sale this week may not be on sale next week), and it eliminates the stigma of "welfare". WIC is a federally funded nutrition program administered through the state. A family can make a decent living and still qualify for WIC.

Children's nutrition should not be a "hot button issue". We should, as a civilized society, provide children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers with adequate nutrition.

black_butterfly 10 years, 6 months ago

offtotheright, I understand what you are saying, but WIC does not fund those type of groceries, WIC just provides basic staples like formula, milk, cheese, eggs, etc. for pregnant women and children 5 and under. What you most likely saw was someone that had "bought" some food stamps from a food stamp receipent. It happens all of the time. I was approached in Dillons by a total stranger asking if I wanted to buy food stamps. The state switched from paper coupons to the "vision" credit card to deter fraud, but food stamp fraud is still at an all time high. People just sell the "use" of their card to someone that they trust with their PIN number. When I was doing home daycare I had one mothers bringing me milk stating that WIC gives them too much. There are so many problems in the welfare system, but they are steadily working on correcting them.

geekin_topekan 10 years, 6 months ago

Actually EVERTHING I ever say is absolutely true and as an added bonus ,CORRECT.If you can't find it maybe you aren't looking in the right place.Personally I don't have time right now.Too much real-world stuff to do.But when i do I'll pm this article,how's that?

hammysammy 10 years, 6 months ago

This article "alludes" to Wal-Mart. It took me 5 seconds to find it. And I have worked with the web extensively for 0 years.

Confrontation 10 years, 6 months ago

"Children's nutrition should not be a "hot button issue". We should, as a civilized society, provide children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers with adequate nutrition."

Conservatives only care about forcing a woman to keep her fetus, not how it's taken care of after the birth. Read posts by someone like offtotheright. They consider abortion to be evil, but starving a child and making him/her homeless after birth is just fine.

geekin_topekan 10 years, 6 months ago

Hammysammy found the article I was refereing and I will concede in the sense that the comments came from Mr C himself and not from any official. But my opinion of corporate takeover still stands regardless of the weight his or my opinions carry. Defender sure has his undies in a twist.Whats up with that?Oh well.Not my problem. Regardless,I still find it amusing that he hangs antiBush slogans and relied on government programs.

Smitty,you are absolutely correct when you say that Government money is out there to be siphoned.Addiction is one of them.Although locally the market is sewn up at the moment but as people become more aware(and they will)of how these protect all people and not just simply benifit the addict there will be more demand for such places like decca and hearthstone.Always good to keep relations in local government up as funds will be more widely avaiable.

trinity 10 years, 6 months ago

glad you spoke up, hammysammy-i too saw the article geekin referred to. and i have "years of 'net experience" also, lol.

i'm just sayin'...

trinity 10 years, 6 months ago

oh one more thing-ottr, you really ought to learn about programs&such before blowing your mouth(fingers?)off. wic is a valuable resource for pregnant women, babies, young children. i myself was a wic recipient, and it surely helped out; lots of very healthy nutritious foods for me while pregnant&for the babe when born. nothin' in the world wrong with wic.

now, the whole foodstamp/vision program, may indeed be in line for an overhaul; i was a food stamp recipient many moons ago, and always received way more stamps than i needed. seriously! and i know there ARE habitual abusers, and it still happens with the vision cards. sometimes you just can't fix stupid. BUT, i remember one year when my financial status was particularly grim; no $ to get my oldest child a damn thing for her birthday, so we went a little nutso at the grocery store. pop, candy, good food-we got it all! and celebrated with a fun meal at home. that was the only time i ever remember getting frivolous groceries-but i tell you what, it made an 8 year old's birthday not quite so sad.

trinity 10 years, 6 months ago

oh for the love of god, defender/enforcer/whoevs you happen to be at the moment...

the guy that RAN the wic store made reference to wally world being somewhat to blame. geekin TRIED to explain that but your pigheadedness can't seem to absorb it.

don't you ever get tired of being so contrary?

hammysammy 10 years, 6 months ago

"Criswell said with Wal-Mart gripping a big chunk of the WIC market in Kansas, it drives down the average. The result for Criswell is that Family Nutrition was often reimbursed less than it paid for certain items." Actually, I think this is the section of the article people are referring to. This is someone's opinion, as conceded by Geekin. But it is also common knowledge as well. Having said that, I see both sides of the WalMart argument and tend to agree with the haters...however, I get why people shop there and that sometimes that it is the only viable option.

trinity 10 years, 6 months ago

i know hammy i just feel like flogging myself every time i shop at a weinermart! (pet name, lol). seriously, when i need everything from milk to motor oil for my old jalopy to pantihose-where else can i get it all in one fell swoop??

oh-i must qualify, i believe, with the fact that i live in a VERY small town that has NO store, so yes-convenience IS a big deal, to me.

hammysammy 10 years, 6 months ago

I have been using reading comprehension skills extensively for the last 24+ years of my life, so I happen to know that along with that vital skill, as well as my 0 years of extensive web experience, that I comprehended the meaning of that article. One thing I learned in my extensive reading comprehension training is that comprehending the reading requires more than processing the irrelevant meaning of one random sentence. One must comprehend the article and what it implies or "alludes" to. Be it opinion or fact, or in this case, common sense-it is important to comprehend the whole article. Or opinion. To see what it alludes to. Comprende? Trinity- I feel your pain. Camping trips always send me to WalMart. Then I get sucked in to the evil vortex and emerge $400 later, dazed and confused, on the verge of tears, not sure how I got to the parking lot, or why I felt it was necessary to buy a new roasting pan.

Larry Bauerle Jr. 10 years, 6 months ago

Where does this article say anything about "starving children"? It is about a man who sees a way of making a living off government programs in a way that would cost you and I more than it should. WIC is a great program and will continue to be so. As a first year teacher, years ago, my wife and I qualified and took used the program. We never felt ashamed and paid for the rest of our items on our own. I guess I don't see anything wrong with wanting to get the most for our money. In the long run, as the article states, if money can be saved, then more money can be spent on additional people to qualify for the program. Of course, this doesn't fit with "the government is out to screw the little guy" philosophy of many on this site.

denak 10 years, 6 months ago

I've used WIC twice in my life. The first time was as a new mother, sixteen years ago, when I was in the Marines. It may shock some people but commissaries take WIC and food stamps. For those who think that only irresponsible ho's use WIC, go tell it to our servicemen and women who use them. The second time was two years ago, when I had two foster son who were both under the age of 5. They qualified for WIC and we used them. We weren't ashamed and we didn't try to hide it. Their health and well-being were more important to us then what some ignorant stranger thought of us.

As for those who use WIC and by extension food stamps, because they are "poor" and "need" them, I applaud them. I have more respect for someone who uses these programs to meet the basic needs of their children, then someone who is so proud (read stupid) that he or she allows her children to go hungry. That is the person who should be ashamed. Not the single mom who needs a little help.

Lastly, I think it is a shame these stores closed. It is a pain in the butt sometimes trying to figure out which brand is cheaper when you are in a store that doesn't have ALL the prices listed. I tried shopping at Wal-Mart once with the vouchers and it was a disaster. I went back to Dillons and never shopped anywhere else.


trinity 10 years, 6 months ago

"but if you qualify for WIC, you most likely qualify for food stamps, too."

nope, DL, that is just not true. a lot of working poor that don't qualify for vision cards-do qualify for wic.

trinity 10 years, 6 months ago

oh hammy-i've been in your shoes many a time! :) i'm getting a whole lot better about it, though.

really enjoyed your post.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 6 months ago

It would seem to me shopping the nearest grocery store should be sufficient at the price of gasoline. Wal-Marts are not always near by. Dillons,HyVee and Price Chopper should jump on the band wagon. It would be good PR.

Everything at Wal-Mart is not a bargain which is why I do not shop there and have not for the past 4 years. Soooo WIC parents may not be getting the most for the tax dollar.

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