When the U.S. Government shut down two weeks ago, I couldn’t believe it at first. When I finally accepted what had happened, I thought it would last for a day or two, at most. I thought there was no way such an asinine approach to hindering a constitutional law would actually work, and things would go back to normal when everyone realized how ridiculous it was. The duration of this shutdown and the childishness occurring in the US Government is really starting to make me mad. Every US citizen – and world citizen for that matter – can probably find at least one reason to take this situation personally by now. Fellow Girls’ Globe Blogger, Emma Saloranta, wrote an article about how the government shutdown is affecting women’s reproductive health and her own family planning. That article was published a few days after the shutdown. Now two weeks later, more problems are emerging and the same problems are becoming worse.
The WIC program provides “supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition education and counseling at WIC clinics, and screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social services” to low-income, nutritionally at-risk infants, children (up to age 5), and pregnant women.
WIC began in 1972 and was developed by physicians who were witnessing their patients, women and infants, suffering from illnesses caused by a lack of food and nutrients. After being provided healthy food, these women and children no longer needed medical treatment. (Coincidentally, WIC helps lower the cost of the overall US health care system, but that’s another story.) Learn more about the program through visiting the WIC website.
“WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the US!”
Due to the shutdown, the program is running out of resources, and in some states not providing new vouchers.
Among the numerous services cut off to the people of the US right now, I find it sickening that women with INFANTS and young CHILDREN are being cut off as well.
It’s time to get personal! WIC is not only crucial for the MILLIONS of women, infants and children that are supported by the program in this country, but it played an important role in my own family. When I was five years old my parents became the foster parents of my 2-month-old cousin. Having two brothers, I was ecstatic to gain a baby sister. Little did I know the sacrifices my parents made to make sure my cousin would not be taken to an unknown foster family. Without the WIC program and government support she may have not grown up as my sister. At that time my mother was in law school and my father was an editor for a local newspaper. My mother is now an attorney and works for the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch and my father works in the Connecticut public school system.
Not only were our lives made a little bit easier and our stomachs more nourished through the WIC program, I was also able to learn a little bit about nutrition at age five. I knew that Cheerios were healthy and that Fruit Loops were not even an option. I could find my way through the grocery store, picking out the WIC approved items on my own: formula, two percent milk, eggs, orange juice, etc. As my dad’s grocery partner, I never felt ashamed to stand by his side when he pulled out the WIC vouchers (of course I was 5, and didn’t know the what that type of social humiliation felt like). However, I think my parents’ demeanor while grocery shopping helped me feel comfortable. Even today, I will put up a fight when people shun those on government food assistance. Maybe we could have raised my sister without WIC, but we would have been a lot more stressed out and a lot more strapped for cash than we already were.
I learned a lot from the WIC program, but most importantly it taught me that people are supposed to help each other when times get hard. This has been a guiding force in my life and has directed both my educational and career endeavors. I know that everyone is not as lucky as me to have such empathetic parents, but let’s use some common sense here. Open the U.S. government, get the WIC program back underway, and allow our fellow citizens more access to health care!
How has WIC helped you? If you have a personal story to share, I would love to hear it! You can post a comment here, tweet @LizAFort, Email me directly at email@example.com, or send a message to the Girls’ Globe contact page. Don’t forget to check out our guidelines for commenting first!
I know I am not the only one who has a personal account of WIC. Feminist Hulk , fellow WIC recipient and online feminist superhero agrees. Follow her on Twitter and look to her website to find resources for women with children while WIC services are cut off during the government shut down. You can also read about a recent NPR interview with Feminist Hulk here!