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Child nutrition program faces cuts

Ohanian Comment: Yes, leave no child behind--except in milk, eggs, fruit, and other nutrition provided by WIC. Of course this same scenario is playing out across the country.

Money for military but not for milk for babies.

I read read comments until I couldn't stomach any more of the really really ugly bile. I have a theory that, by and large, very desperately unhappy people respond to online articles. That said, here was one decent comment:

Reader Comment: Steady diet of blame and bile here. Yes, give to kids in need. That will help them grow up to be healthy, productive taxpayers. Hopefully they'll have more compassion when you're old and in the way and in need of adult day care, Medicare, and fuel oil assistance.

By David Abel

Governor Deval Patrick and state lawmakers are proposing to slash more than 20 percent of state money from a decades-old program that helps thousands of low-income mothers afford formula and other basic foods for their children.

The Women, Infants, and Children program, widely known as WIC, is regarded as a pillar of the social safety net, providing 130,000 low-income women in Massachusetts who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or raising young children with supplemental food, health care referrals, and nutrition education.

Despite concerns raised by advocates for the poor, state officials said they have no choice but to make the cuts because of the stateâs budget crunch.

âMassachusetts, like all states, continues to feel the impact of the global economic crisis,ââ said Julia Hurley, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health. âNo agency wants to have to make these decisions, but sound fiscal management has required tough choices.ââ

Hurley said the effects of the proposed cut in state funding for WIC, such as how many families might lose support, remain unclear. State spending would fall from $12.4 million this fiscal year to $9.8 million.

The state also receives federal aid for WIC, which is likely to decline next fiscal year, advocates said. State officials could not say how much the state receives from the federal government for WIC, which provides aid to children until age 5.

Advocates for low-income women, however, said they fear that the consequences of cutting WIC again â it sustained a 9 percent cut in the past three years â will prove devastating.

âThis would just make it much harder for poor families,ââ said Valerie Bassett, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. âIt would undermine our effort to make sure that low-income families have access to healthy food.ââ

The monthly WIC benefits package can provide a child between the ages of 1 and 4 with a dozen eggs, 16 quarts of milk, and $6 in vouchers for fruits and vegetables, among other foods, according to the US Department of Agriculture. . . .
You can read the rest of the story at the url below.

— David Abel
Boston Globe


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