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Archive for Sunday, August 9, 2009

Program helps moms put nutritious meals on table

WIC provides healthy food and more

Dana Holloway is a participant in the WIC program that offers nutritional help for children through age 5. On Thursday, Dana was shopping at Checkers with her daughters Sophia, 14 months; Samantha, 4; and Savana, 2. WIC, the shortened name for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, is a federally funded program.

Dana Holloway is a participant in the WIC program that offers nutritional help for children through age 5. On Thursday, Dana was shopping at Checkers with her daughters Sophia, 14 months; Samantha, 4; and Savana, 2. WIC, the shortened name for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, is a federally funded program.

August 9, 2009

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Who's eligible

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children provides nutritious foods, health education and referrals to health and other social services at no charge.

Here are the eligibility requirements:

• Recipients must be a pregnant, breast-feeding or postpartum woman, infant, or child under age 5.

• Your income must be at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. A household of two can earn $26,955 and a household of four can earn $40,793.

• You must have a nutrition risk, which is determined by a health professional. The risks can be medically based such as anemia, being underweight, being overweight or having a history of pregnancy complications. They also include dietary risks such as failure to meet dietary guidelines or inappropriate nutrition practices.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s clinic at 843-0721 or e-mail wicinfo@ldchealth.org.

Christina Gordzica, left, breast-feeds her infant daughter while she listens to nutritionist Linda Rippetoe explain information on food items available through the WIC program.

Christina Gordzica, left, breast-feeds her infant daughter while she listens to nutritionist Linda Rippetoe explain information on food items available through the WIC program.

Christina Gordzica, right, receives her WIC checks after visiting the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s clinic on Thursday afternoon.

Christina Gordzica, right, receives her WIC checks after visiting the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s clinic on Thursday afternoon.

Gayle Sherman, a Lawrence nutritionist, raised her arms in the air and shook her fists.

“Yeah!” she said enthusiastically. She is happy about the first major change in the foods offered by the “Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children” since its founding 35 years ago.

The federally funded program, commonly known as WIC, provides free, healthy foods to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breast-feeding women, infants and children up to age 5 who qualify.

Each month, WIC serves 8.7 million participants nationwide, 77,000 in Kansas and 1,550 in Douglas County. Half of the babies born in the United States are served by WIC. In Kansas, it’s just slightly less, at 48 percent.

In 2008, the WIC program provided $1 million worth of groceries in Douglas County and $50.5 million in Kansas.

Last week, the participants gained access to a greater number of healthy choices. In general, these choices are lower in fat, higher in fiber and help families meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines.

For example, the program now pays for fruits and vegetables, which were not covered before. It will pay for only whole-wheat breads, not white. Instead of whole milk, women and children older than age 2 will receive low or nonfat milk only.

The new food package also promotes breast-feeding by offering the greatest number of foods to moms who breast-feed exclusively, as well as providing baby food meats to breast-fed infants at 6 months of age.

“It was a long process, but well worth it,” said Sherman, WIC coordinator for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department for 12 years. “It’s an exciting move.”

As with a lot of government processes, it took a long time — 10 years — to reach implementation. The deadline for nationwide implementation is Oct. 1, but Kansas’ plan took effect last Monday.

The food is provided through vouchers that are issued by local health departments and are based on nutrition needs, not income. The average amount provided per client is $58.66 per month, and for a formula-fed baby it is $110 per month.

Food labels

David Thomason, state director of nutrition and WIC services, said the food program can help everyone by steering them toward healthy food choices. Shoppers just need to look for the WIC-approved food labels in participating stores. There are 12 participating stores in Douglas County.

“We are looking at helping folks change their behaviors with regards to food and how they eat,” Thomason said. “As more folks are aware of the healthy choices that are provided by WIC, maybe they will begin choosing themselves to eat better and eat more fruits and vegetables. The cereals that have WIC labels on them are lower in sugar.”

Sherman said obesity is a problem nationwide and in Douglas County.

“We are seeing it in younger and younger children. A few months ago, I saw a 3-year-old that the doctor had screened for diabetes. This child was large for her age,” she said. “So it’s sad when our habits that we form are causing more and more health problems, earlier and earlier.”

Offering education

The WIC program addresses obesity and chronic conditions through education as well. The goal is to reach children as early as possible.

“It is a program designed to promote healthy habits for a lifetime,” Sherman said.

Clients meet with a dietitian, who reviews their diets and health behaviors. The dietitian’s advice can run the gamut: how to lose weight, how to get a child to eat at dinnertime, how to shop on a budget and how to breast-feed. Clients also get free referrals to health and social service agencies.

WIC employees often recommend immunization shots when they see children who aren’t up-to-date on the required ones. The program also provides free classes such as Quick Meals For Busy Families, Pickles and Ice Cream — Getting Ready for Your Special Delivery, and Goo Goo Faces — Starting Your Baby on Solids.

Lawrence resident Dana Holloway, 39, described WIC’s services as beneficial. She has four daughters: Sabrina, 9, Samantha, 4, Savanna, 2, and Sophia, 1. Three of the girls are enrolled in the WIC program.

“It’s really helpful for me as a mom because it reinforces maybe some things that I have forgotten like serving sizes and picking out which foods are the best for the kids,” Holloway said.

She said the classes also helped connect her with other mothers. She found the breast-feeding classes particularly helpful.

“You need to talk to other mothers that have gone through it and they can help answer questions,” she said. “They can help reassure that you are doing fine.”

Holloway said the dietitians have a lot of good ideas. For example, they suggested that she make teething rings out of extra cereal.

“They’re always very encouraging and helpful,” she said.

Tough times

Holloway is a stay-at-home mom and her husband, Bill, works. She said about half of the employees have been laid off at his workplace, so they are nervous. She said knowing that WIC was available to help put healthy food on the table was reassuring in such uncertain times.

The Holloways are not alone. During the past couple of years, enrollment in the WIC program has grown about 10 percent statewide and 14 percent in Douglas County. Last October, the county served a record 1,621 clients. The state hit a record in April at 77,708.

“In the last few months, I’ve talked to more people that have been going through bankruptcy than I’ve ever talked to before, so a lot of people are really hurting out there,” Sherman said.

To be income-eligible for WIC benefits, a household may earn up to and including 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For a family of four, that’s $40,793 annually and for a family of two, it’s $26,955.

“We encourage moms to apply for WIC the moment they know they are pregnant,” Thomason said. “It’s a preventative health program, so it helps ensure healthy moms and especially brand new babies.”

Nationally, one in four pregnant women are in WIC. Numerous studies have shown that pregnant women who participate have longer pregnancies, leading to fewer premature births; have fewer low birth-weight babies; and experience fewer fetal and infant deaths.

Both parties in Congress strongly support WIC and appropriated $6.86 billion for the program this year, up 70 percent from $4 billion in 2000.

New mom Christina Gordzica, 23, Lawrence, described the program as a godsend as she held her 3-week-old daughter, Alyssa Armstrong. Gordzica enrolled in the WIC program in April, and it has provided her with healthier foods and advice on breast-feeding.

“It’s just there to back you up and really help you out,” she said. “This has been a huge lifesaver.”

Comments

niles 4 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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thadrosen 4 years, 8 months ago

Marshalus,

You are way off base. There may be a few limited items where the customer is required to choose the least expensive brand, but a large majority allow them any brand. Look at the WIC booklet, it's plain as day.

Please do your research before commenting. Did you not read the article? The WIC program has also expanded, allowing the customers the choice of most all fruits and vegetables. How do you specify the least expensive bunch of carrots?

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Katara 4 years, 8 months ago

Irish (Irish Swearingen) says… I am only speaking for myself not the Catholic Church. The article was in the London Times a couple of weeks ago. To me this is really about the most disgusting thing a woman can do. That is how I feel. Check out the newest dictionary, because of Seinfeld and increased usage, now one definition of nazi is someone who tries to push their ideas on others. Some words have more than one definition.. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Doesn't a devout Catholic always follow the Church's teachings? You've questioned others devoutness when they claimed to be a conservative Catholic but here you are completely disagreeing with the Catholic Church's position on breastfeeding.

http://www.catholicbreastfeeding.org/

Do you honestly feel that Mary breastfeeding Jesus is one of the most disgusting things she could have done?

One of the most disgusting things I can think of that a woman can do is advocate for a rape victim to be completely sterilized if that rape victim chooses not to carry the product of her rape to term. I seem to recall you advocating that. It was pretty disgusting. It is also very Nazi-like.

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whatadrag 4 years, 8 months ago

Irish, when you say breastfeeding is revolting and barbaric, you are essentially putting down anyone who does it. Naturally you will offend people.

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Linda Endicott 4 years, 8 months ago

Confrontation, It's a shame that you're raising children who see a condescending attitude toward the poor and trashing those less fortunate than themselves as good options...

Unless, of course, you have no children, in which case the rest of us are more fortunate...

And if you have no children, then you have no idea how difficult taking care of them is...even with a full-time job, many parents find that they can't afford everything they need...

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edjayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Confrontation, Feel free to make an arse out of yourself. Read the posts from mom_of_three and cgordzica and maybe you will learn something. You're obviously an idiotic but I do feel sorry for people like you.

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cgordzica 4 years, 8 months ago

As the nursing mother in this article I will tell you that I graduated from a four year, private college, in the top 10% of my class. I lost my job in April and thus qualified for WIC. I have worked my entire life and know what it means to have drive, I am anything but lazy. I hated having to ask for help, but I am so thankful for what they provide. I am also in a steady relationship, this is our first child and she has been the best thing to happen to us. If you don't know what you are talking about, shut your mouth. Decent human beings don't judge others just because they need help. Maybe one day you will need some kind of help, and someone will tell you to quit being so lazy or they don't want to give you a free hand out. Grow up and educate yourself.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 8 months ago

Man, you people don't understand WIC at all. It has been around for a long time, and helps supplement a healthy diet for kids, and nursing mothers. How many remember struggling a bit after a new baby is born? I don't know what WIC provides now, but it used to provide a few gallons of milk, juice, beans, peanut butter and cereal during a month for kids and formula for non-nursing mothers. If it provides fresh fruit now, that's great. Everyone needs a helping hand now and then.
I used to work at the health department, and there were people coming in who had lost their job, recently moved, teenage mothers, college families, families with foster kids and even farmers who needed a little extra help. I remember the names of lots of people who came in for help, and I see them around town. So many successful and contributing members of the community.
There are many people who work full time with families with kids under 5 who would qualify for this program.
You have to attend nutritional classes and have check ups for the kids. It's not just handing out free stuff, and by no way feeds kids for a month.

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WhiteDog 4 years, 8 months ago

So, according to Irish...

Feeding a baby the food that was designed by God/Nature/Million of years of evolution/[insert belief of your choice] to be the absolute optimum food for human brain and body development in order to continue the existence of our species = revolting and barbaric.

therefore...

Feeding a baby a laboratory created chemical concoction that doesn't have one single real food in its ingredient list through a petroleum-based substitute nipple = what???

Just for the record, nursing my kids was the single best parenting choice I ever made. It was healthier for them, it was easier for me, it was about as far from disgusting as you can get.

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Bobbi Reid 4 years, 8 months ago

I used wic with my oldest daughter who is now 10, and am currently receiving wic with my youngest who is 4. I am a full time student who had to quit her job, because her daughter became ill. However, when I was working my job at the IRS, I still qualified for WIC, and was grateful for the extra help. I am so glad they have now started giving fruits and veggies.

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beobachter 4 years, 8 months ago

irish, have you ever given birth?

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maybeso 4 years, 8 months ago

Whoa Irish!!! Are you serious? Breastfeeding a baby is really about the most disgusting thing a woman can do? Maybe you should get out more. Maybe you should talk this over with a caring professional.

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macon47 4 years, 8 months ago

OBAMA BE TAKIN CARE OF DIS HOPE AnD CHanGE WE ALL BE IN IT

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swarm 4 years, 8 months ago

Hey, Irish- "Ignorance doesn't need to be unmasked, it only needs a stage" The stage is all yours my dear.

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Confrontation 4 years, 8 months ago

edjayhawk, feel free to get a job so that we don't have to fund you and your family. Many mothers would like to stay home for as long as they want after their baby is born, but they can't get the free handouts like these women. You're a drain on society. It's too bad that you're raising children who see laziness and welfare as good options.

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macon47 4 years, 8 months ago

SO DO YOU HAVE 3 OR 4 OR 5 KIDS AND THEN DECIDE HOW TO FEED THEM? THIS IS ESPECIALLY HELPFUL IF THEY HAVE THE SAME FATHER, OR YOU KNOW WHO THE FATHER IS. OR OF COURSE YOU CAN ALWAYS LET YOUR PARENTS RAISE THEM AND CONTINUE TO PARTY ON

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Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow. Irish is giving her opinion about something. Again. Didn't Irish just have an opinion a few days ago? What up with this?

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lmn 4 years, 8 months ago

Irish must be really hungry for attention again. Wow.

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niles 4 years, 8 months ago

These wenches are parasitic thieves. The money that could have been rightfully spent on the children of the productive is expropriated to the poor.

No idiot liberal or christian can justify forced altruism. If they want to provide patronage for the WIC crew, then they should have every right to do so. They have NO RIGHT to make me do it.

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niles 4 years, 8 months ago

where do i sign up for my free handouts? Oh wait, i saved my money, went to college, used my head and got a recession-proof job, and work non-stop to develop my skills. No free food for my kid.

i guess if i get to pay for the poor's welfare programs, i should feel justified in hating them.

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rbwaa 4 years, 8 months ago

Irish, I hope you are not a 'nazi' to young mothers you might know who have made the choice to nurse their babies or even to young mothers who might choose not to nurse their babies. No mother should be made to feel 'disgusting' because of any choice made to properly care for her baby.

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edjayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Oh so raising kids is not work and costs nothing to do so...

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edjayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Do you know how many actual working parents would love to be able to sit at home on their butts and not work?

Yes, zero.

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Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 8 months ago

I am only speaking for myself not the Catholic Church. The article was in the London Times a couple of weeks ago. To me this is really about the most disgusting thing a woman can do. That is how I feel. Check out the newest dictionary, because of Seinfeld and increased usage, now one definition of nazi is someone who tries to push their ideas on others. Some words have more than one definition..

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denak 4 years, 8 months ago

I used WIC when my son was born almost 18 years ago when I was in the service. Both food stamps and WIC were accepted at the military commissaries. So, please, feel free to tell our military men and women to not have children if they can't provide for them.

Also, I used WIC when I had two foster children under the age of 5. It is a great program! Wal-Mart does makes it way to difficult to use. I tried buying the WIC stuff there once. It was such a huge, convuluted mess. After that, I went back to Dillon's and never again tried to use the vouchers at Wal-Mart.

Dena

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

In the days of yore, royalty and other aristocrats had wet nurses to do the nursing for them-- they didn't use any sort of formula, although they clearly thought breast feeding was beneath aristocratic women.

On another note--

Does anyone know if the Merc still participates in WIC program? I know they did 15 or so years ago, and it was problematic because it required them to stock items that violated many of their guidelines on food quality and purity. I'm glad to see that the program has been upgraded.

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Confrontation 4 years, 8 months ago

If both parents are physically able to work, then they shouldn't be getting WIC because one decides to stay home. Do you know how many actual working parents would love to be able to sit at home on their butts and not work? I don't care if they won't make much after the cost of daycare. That's just a lame excuse.

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fuel_for_the_fire 4 years, 8 months ago

"Today the word nazi does not mean Germany or Hitler, it means someone who is overzealous in their approach to something."

Creating your own thesaurus, are you?

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beobachter 4 years, 8 months ago

How did mankind survive for millions of years if the females were not breast feeding the offspring? Don't recall seeing any historical documentation of formula factories and distribution centers. I realize the nutcase christians will claim mankind has only been here for 6000 years, but fact remains, where did all this formula come from to feed those offspring.

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Katara 4 years, 8 months ago

Irish (Irish Swearingen) says… The London Times had a very good article in which they said that breast feeding is way over hyped. The pro breast feeding group uses fear tactics to enforce their point of view. I wish the food nazis would just shut up and go away. Today the word nazi does not mean Germany or Hitler, it means someone who is overzealous in their approach to something. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And of course, you provide no link for anyone to read this "very good" article.

I really find it odd that someone has an issue with breasts doing what they are supposed to do - provide nourishment for infants. God designed them to do that, correct?

Are you revolted by Mary breastfeeding Jesus? If it is good enough for our Lord and Savior, then it should be good enough for a devout Catholic such as yourself.

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couranna1 4 years, 8 months ago

irish nice try but nazi always has the same meaning but nice attempt at justification though

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Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 8 months ago

The London Times had a very good article in which they said that breast feeding is way over hyped. The pro breast feeding group uses fear tactics to enforce their point of view. I wish the food nazis would just shut up and go away. Today the word nazi does not mean Germany or Hitler, it means someone who is overzealous in their approach to something.

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Michael Stanclift 4 years, 8 months ago

grammaddy, you are not correct about the grocers having a "choice" in what is offered by WIC. I used to enforce what was on WIC at Checkers, the state puts out very specific guidelines as to what sizes and brands are allowed. If I remember correctly, it also states that the least expensive brand is the one that should go on the program at that store. In most cases, this leaves the store with the option of selecting the "store brand" or dropping the price of the name brand to the point where they're taking a loss on it.

So if that is a choice, then it's not really much of one. I agree it can be confusing, but in the case of Checkers, they put a large WIC logo on the price label of the eligible products. I've never paid attention to what Hyvee, Dillions or Wal-Mart do but I'm sure it's something similar.

In some cases, they do not allow store brands to be used, usually in stuff like formula or cereal.

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gaiapapaya 4 years, 8 months ago

And yes, breastfeeding is best. Whether you make a dollar year or a million, nothing replaces momma's milk.

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gaiapapaya 4 years, 8 months ago

WIC actually helps save society money in the long run. The parents, yes dads can place their children on WIC, are required to meet with a dietitian and attend nutrition education. This helps kids have a healthy foundation and learn good eating habits from an early age. This saves us money from overweight kids who have more health problems overall and along the lifespan.

It's great they can now offer fresh fruits and veggies. Much better than juice in providing vitamins.

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Katara 4 years, 8 months ago

Irish (Irish Swearingen) says… I am totally opposed to this. Breast feeling is revolting and barbaric. This is just another case of “nice” middle class women forcing their values on lower class women. You get rewarded if you go things their way and punished if you don't. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That's really odd. The big push for feeding your baby formula in the 1950s was that breastfeeding was a lower class activity. Breastfeeding then meant you were too poor. Hardly a case of middle class women forcing their values on lower class women.

Revolting and barbaric, huh? That's pretty funny considering that baby formula is relatively new on the scene, historically speaking. Mary nursed Jesus so how revolting and barbaric could breastfeeding be?

Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for babies but there are circumstances that prevent women from being able to do so. Women should never be made to feel ashamed of the choice they make to feed their infants.

WIC is an excellent program. Hopefully, they will spread the word about single fathers being able to get WIC for their children under 5. This will help make sure that all children who are eligible are covered.

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fuel_for_the_fire 4 years, 8 months ago

Speaking of dull and ignorant, Irish..... did you know that breast milk is more efficient than baby formula in the production of myelin? We've known this for several years now, do try to keep up dear.

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fuel_for_the_fire 4 years, 8 months ago

Actually, I find breast feeling to be rather stimulating. But everyone is entitled to their opinion, even the dull and the ignorant.

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grammaddy 4 years, 8 months ago

WIC concentrates mostly on the health of the child. Mothers are covered while pregnant or nursing, children are covered until they are 5. Yes fathers may sign up their children. This is an excellent program. Now, if only the local grocers could be consistent on which foods each one will allow. WIC supplies a list of eligible foods and the grocer gets to decide which ones they will allow to be offered.For example, Wal-Mart only allows the "Wal-mart" brand for frozen orange juice.

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Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 8 months ago

I am totally opposed to this. Breast feeling is revolting and barbaric. This is just another case of "nice" middle class women forcing their values on lower class women. You get rewarded if you go things their way and punished if you don't.

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lori 4 years, 8 months ago

Yea, WIC! What a great program! I'm glad to see these long-overdue updates. Thanks to those who work in this program--your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated, and too often goes unnoticed.

I have never been on the receiving end of WIC, but I've worked with pregnant and postpartum moms and their babies, and have seen first hand the good that comes from this program. I'm happy to pay taxes to support it. The nutritious food, the education and the support provided by WIC are well worth it.

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thinkagain 4 years, 8 months ago

What if you COULD afford them and then were laid-off? Maybe they should just give their children to the neighbors or maybe we can have "orphan" trains again. There isn't anything wrong with a nation that CAN afford to take care of its children to do so.

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be3 4 years, 8 months ago

Here's a crazy idea, don't have kids if you can't afford them. I shouldn't have to help take care of them too.

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rbwaa 4 years, 8 months ago

The program is for women only when they are pregnant or nursing. All the rest of WIC is for children under the age of 5, so yes, single fathers would be able to obtain WIC for their children.

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StirrrThePot 4 years, 8 months ago

Ok, it started as an amendment to the Food & Nutrition Act in '72, so I was way off. Can't remember where I'd heard the "war widow" origin story. It actually originates in the '60s as a result of trying to solve the problem of malnutrition in the US. Thank you, Google.

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StirrrThePot 4 years, 8 months ago

"Is this program open to single fathers who are rearing their babies, no “woman” in sight because she has gone on to “greener pastures”? Mothers leaving their babies happens far more often than anyone wants to think about or believe….."

That's a good question, Pogo. I know very little about the program, so I wonder the same. I think WIC was created for war widows over 60 years ago but I am not sure how it has evolved or what single dads are provided, if not this program.

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KEITHMILES05 4 years, 8 months ago

Why is it people have babies yet they can't care for them? Where is the responsibility factor? Since when should the government be expected to care fo 50% of all babies born?

Sad.

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Bowhunter99 4 years, 8 months ago

Personal Responsibility.

One kid in WIC? ok... Two kids? alright... something unexpected/unplanned occurred... help the family with second one as well.

3-4 kids on the same family receiving government assistance because EVEN the government knows you can't afford to feed that many children with your current income?

At one point you must realize you can't afford to take care of the children you have and say 'you know what? I can't even afford to feed the first one, why have more?' Or the come to the realization and feel 'entitled to the WIC' program and continue to have kids 3 thru 6 since the government will be paying to feed them...

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Pogo 4 years, 8 months ago

Is this program open to single fathers who are rearing their babies, no "woman" in sight because she has gone on to "greener pastures"? Mothers leaving their babies happens far more often than anyone wants to think about or believe.....

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edjayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Damn entitlement programs. I don't want my taxes spent on food for these people. Can't they just go hungry? :)

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macon47 4 years, 8 months ago

i wish i had enough money to feed 4 kids

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

Come on, all you die-hard conservatives. There has to be something truly evil about the government helping to supply food to mothers and their infants and small children, doesn't there? This must be a sure sign that we're on the fast track to communist gulags, right?

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