This is going to sound odd, but I have fond memories of receiving WIC benefits as a young mother. For about two years, I gratefully took advantage of both Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Perhaps because I was working in a health food store at the time, I liked the idea that WIC only covered nutritious foods like milk, peanut butter, and the soy formula my highly allergic toddler needed for his Cheerios. It also didn't carry with it the stigma of the Medicaid card. Unlike some medical professionals, grocery store cashiers didn't seem to begrudge my benefits.
In its annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that it spent $60.7 billion on food assistance programs in 2008, an 11 percent increase from 2007 and the eighth consecutive record-breaking increase. WIC was the fastest growing program of the year, even though it only accounted for a tenth of the outlay.
WIC ensures basic nutrition for nascent human life. It's a program pro-lifers can heartily support. I would even say we have a moral obligation to support it. With an appallingly high infant mortality rate, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links to maternal poverty, the United States is shamefully derelict in the health of its youngest members.
In a recent Atlantic post, Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, wondered "what it means that half of U.S. infants are born into families so poor that they are eligible for WIC benefits." I can't answer that question because I wasn't poor, I was just eligible. I worked, lived with my parents, and later repaid my debt many times over through taxes and a public school mentorship to ...1
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