Sunday, December 23, 2007

If We Weren't Spending $150 Million A Day On War

Included in last week's omnibus spending bill was funding for WIC, the Women, Infants and Children program which provides food vouchers and nutritional counseling for pregnant and nursing women, infants and children. The president has signalled that he will sign the bill, so the program will continue, although only at the level of last year. An article in today's Sacramento Bee provides some rather depressing statistics on the program and the people it serves.

California accounts for more than 1 in 8 of WIC recipients nationwide – and demand has nearly tripled since 1990, a trend that county officials say has been fueled by rising food costs. ...

Teri Duarte, director of the Sacramento County WIC program, said the county caseload has grown 30 percent to 29,000 in the past three years.

"We're serving everyone who's eligible, but we couldn't if everyone who is eligible applied," Duarte said. "We're only serving 55 percent of the eligible population." ...

The United States already ranks last among 31 developed countries in terms of the percentage of children and families living in poverty, according to a recent multinational study of household income called the Luxembourg Income Study.

Moreover, the percentage of the severely poor – individuals or families earning less than half of the federally established poverty-line income – grew by 16 percent from 2000 to 2006, according to the Census Bureau.
[Emphasis added]

The WIC program isn't considered an entitlement, merely a program that can be withdrawn at any time. Fortunately, it has enjoyed bipartisan support since its inception. It's considered a valuable supplement to assist in the proper nourishing of children. Unfortunately, it's not popular enough to have merited more money to make up for inflation.

And that means it isn't much of a safety net, especially with the cost of food rising rapidly. Here are the numbers on what the program provides:

Recipients currently receive vouchers for specific foods, averaging about $39 a month in 2007, which they can redeem at contracting grocery stores.

Under the revisions, vouchers for fruits and vegetables will be $6 for children, $8 for women and $10 for fully breast-feeding women.

$39 a month. It's better than nothing, but not by much.

I consider it shameful that this powerful nation, this "exceptional" nation can't find the money to feed its poor children, but can find plenty to blow up another nation's children.


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Blogger eRobin said...

Even worse: this is a victory. As you know, BushCo wanted this program cut via a continuing resolution as happened to other programs, not lucky enough to receive special attention from Congress during the mad dash to meet BushCo's cruel and unnecessary spending limits (on programs that don't kill people outright). Head Start, for example, took a real hit this year. It's a program, like WIC, that returns something like 7 dollars for every 1 invested.

6:25 AM  

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