Making healthy choices on WIC - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, we're back to using WIC and we're not allowed to get organic here in PA anymore. I can get BHG-free milk (non-organic) and brown eggs (non-organic), but at two different stores, which is an issue when they're on the same check.: I can still get the higher-quality tuna and the natural (non-organic) peanut butter. Can some of you nutrition experts help me figure out what is the healthiest to get, whole-foods-wise? The PA WIC list is here (CLICK ON FOOD LIST):
http://www.pawic.com/supplemental.html

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#2 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some of my specific questions are:
what type of cheese is best to get? what brand? (I had once heard Cabot cheese was pretty "safe" but I don't know why)
is it OK to eat non-organic carrots?
what's the best cereal to get? (Right now I'm eating tarted up "puppy chow" make with WW chex, carob chips, natural PB, and organic butter, )
is non-organic OJ safe? frozen or canned?

We truly are just using this as a supplemental program, and I'm thankful for it, but I'm not going to get stuff just for the sake of getting it if we won't use it. Here is PA we have the option not to get everything on the check

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#3 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 09:21 PM
 
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Taking notes as we have been brainstorming using WIC : We could really use it right now.

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#4 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 09:22 PM
 
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Oh my goodness...your baby is adorable! : Congrats! (I know....I am late )

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#5 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 09:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! Although he's not too adorable right now. Evenings = fussy baby.

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#6 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 09:28 PM
 
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it seems like a hassle, but could you just go, for instance, go to the store and look for the different cereals that say 'wic approved' on them? i know our grocery store has those little signs?

as far as baby carrots go, i would think they are 'relatively' benign, because they are grown, and then peeled and washed.

as far as non-organic juice, i know my father works as an electrician in a manufacturing facility, and he says that they test all of their finished juices and products for any pesticide residue. if it has any, they cannot process it.

organic is always better, but i would think short term, frozen oj and nonorganic baby carrots will be okay if it means you get to feed your children and yourself whole foods.
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#7 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 09:28 PM
 
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anettemarie-

we are not in WIC (yet) but I have noticed that the local farmer's mart where I shop accepts something WIC-like for farmer's markets... I cannot remember the initials. I will look tomorrow when I go.

which part of PA do you live in? I live in western-PA, herre we have Giant Eagle, who has their own organic line of cereals. in eastern-PA Wegman's also has their own organic cereals... it looks like those store brands are okay, so maybe that is an option. (if you "do" cereal some people don't)

when i was pregnant with dd1, i drank a lot of the northland cranberry juice. i remember reading the lable and it had not additives. i personally do not buy juice (we mostly jut drink water) but if i did i would buy that brand (organics are too expensive).

we also used to buy cabot cheese. i am not overly concerned about buying organic cheese because they don't eat much of it and the organic is really expensive. i just read the labels to make sure there isn't much added and no coloring. cabot had neither.

can i just say that list is truly insulting. i cannot believe how limiting it is. and i really hate that it specifically says no "organic" or "imported" etc. as though it is some kind of luxury to have quality food that only some people deserve. so everyone else can have the processed, chemically stuff, yk?

i hope you are able to get better help than my rambling.

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#8 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 09:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreaciate your rambling, and I feel the same way. We aren't allowed any organics at all. Even if it doesn't say so in the individual categories, it's on the main page in red- NO ORGANICS FOODS ALLOWED. And on the one hand, I get that it's a cost thing. But on the other hand, it feels very demeaning to be told that because of income limitations, we're somehow not worthy of organic food, not to mention the fact that WIC is supposed to be there to help the farmers as well, and is apparently only helping the big-name conglomerates rather than the organic farmers.

I do have the farmers' markets checks, which will be great. With those, we can get organic foods.

The other thing is, we don't do cereal really. We make our own granola or have hot cereal, but you can't get just plain whole oats on WIC. I was thinking of getting some to make some snack mixes. The kids loved the "puppy chow" we had today. We don't drink lots of milk, and from May to October we get raw milk at the farmers' market. Cheese, meh, somewhat, I guess. Tuna, a couple times a month. Eggs I prefer to get from local growers as well. We don't eat tons of PB, although we could start, I guess. We don't really do juice, and I don't have the patience for dried beans. I really was just hoping it would sort of take the edge off and give us a little wiggle room.

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#9 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 10:26 PM
 
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As far as dried beans go, they're really easy to cook in a rice cooker.

I know it sucks that they don't allow organics, but it's to keep the costs down so that they can serve more families.
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#10 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 10:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WC_hapamama View Post
As far as dried beans go, they're really easy to cook in a rice cooker.

I know it sucks that they don't allow organics, but it's to keep the costs down so that they can serve more families.
Yep, I totally get that. Although I'd love to see stats on how many people were actually buying organics, you know? I just find it hard to believe that it was that many people, at least not around here.

How do you do beans in a rice cooker? I have a rice cooker. I've never even cooked rice in it because it was a hand-me-down that came without instructions.

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#11 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 10:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
Some of my specific questions are:
what type of cheese is best to get? what brand? (I had once heard Cabot cheese was pretty "safe" but I don't know why)
is it OK to eat non-organic carrots?
what's the best cereal to get? (Right now I'm eating tarted up "puppy chow" make with WW chex, carob chips, natural PB, and organic butter, )
is non-organic OJ safe? frozen or canned?

We truly are just using this as a supplemental program, and I'm thankful for it, but I'm not going to get stuff just for the sake of getting it if we won't use it. Here is PA we have the option not to get everything on the check


Do you have a Trader Joe's around you? I can never afford to buy their organic cheeses and milk but I do buy their brand of non organic and know that all of their stuff is not treated with hormones etc.

Plus I save at least 20 -30 a grocery bill just shopping there because their food is so cheap.
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#12 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 11:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sadly, no. Does Trader Joe's accept WIC? That's awesome!

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#13 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 11:04 PM
 
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If I am remembering correctly, Cabot cheese doesn't guarantee being r-BGH free, but usually it is.

I forget their speil as to why they won't guarantee it, and why they feel the need to allow the farmers to use it on the rare occasion that they do.

I was very against consuming anything like that before being a single mom. But now I do use the Cabot cheese, and am grateful for it as a suppliment to the rest of the high quality foods that I do buy.

Cabot definately could be better, but it also could be way worse.
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#14 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 11:30 PM
 
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I just wanted to post that I think it is so utterly unfair that wic won't accept organic, in fact I think it's utterly disgusting! What I did when I was on wic was find a co-op that accepts wic and they were totally cool with you getting cheese without hormones, free range eggs, and because they had bulk legumes, you could get away with getting organic. Sad when you have to manipulate the system to get healthy food. At conventional stores I was careful to get hormone free milk.

I think we need some kind of activism on this though, maybe I'll start a thread in activism, I do know(I used to work for wic last a year and a half ago) and they are in the midst of doing studdies to reform their food packages so I think it is a good time to contact them and let them know how much it stinks.
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#15 of 51 Old 07-12-2007, 11:40 PM
 
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Brown eggs are no healthier than white eggs. I'd go with the hormone-free milk and the white eggs. I'm not at all familiar with non-kosher cheese brands, so I can't help you there.

I'd go ahead and get the non-organic carrots, and tuna. It's so cool that you have the option of not taking all the stuff on your check- in NY I couldn't do that, and we were inundated with frozen juice. I think we finished it 6m after DS graduated from the program- and that's not counting the juice we donated before we moved!

Trader Joe's near me doesn't accept WIC. I started shopping there regularly after DS graduated from WIC- it wasn't worth the trip when I already had to go to 2 other stores each week (someplace that took WIC plus someplace that carried kosher meat and cheese. There's not a single store in my area that does both, so I only got milk from WIC, not milk and cheese.) It's certainly worth a phone call to find out if the ones near you accept WIC.

Oh, if you can get tomato juice through WIC then you can use that for cooking.

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#16 of 51 Old 07-13-2007, 01:25 AM
 
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I may be mixing up my programs, mabye I am thinking of food stamps. Which is the one that you get the card for? Or do you get both automatically?

Anyways, I live in PA too and I am actually surprised at how little there is on the WIC list, but I see that that particular list expires in Septemeber so maybe they'll allow Organics on the new one.
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#17 of 51 Old 07-13-2007, 08:45 AM
 
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yeah I was just going to ask how someone would be an activist type and go for better food on WIC.

I've heard a lot of ppl here say they can get farmer's market vouchers from WIC. We don't.

Now I've heard somebody say they can get natural PB. We can't.

I don't buy PB on WIC because of the fact that I refuse to feed my son and myself hydrogenated PB (even if it's free) when I can get natural non-hydrogenated Skippy for less than 2 bucks. It's *maybe* 30 or 40 cents more than the cheap PB.
I personally think for a program that's SUPPOSED to be about healthy eating, you should ONLY be able to buy non hydrogenated PB.

Incedentally, I asked the WIC people once if I could get another dry bean instead of PB and the lady said no it is both or none. I think that sucks. Oh, and for those who 'aren't patient enough' I wasn't either until I discovered i could dump a bag of beans in the crockpot with 8 cups of water, ignore them all day, and they'd be done in time for dinner. Overnight works too. (you can also do half a bag and 4 cups water if you prefer.) We now almost always have chickpeas made from dry beans in the fridge, and I do quite a bit of cooking with black beans.

The other thing that I think sucks is they post big articles and signs warning about the dangers of too much juice and overweight kids, yet I get at least 6 things of juice concentrate a month plus one can of tomato juice. I cook with the tomato juice. I've started collecting treat recipes that use juice concentrate instead of white sugar.
Still, I would think they could maybe give say even a can of pineapple a month instead of juice as an option? (I say pineapple because I know it's always canned in juice not syrup. they could also allow the other fruits canned in juice.) Or even better, fresh fruit, but it's harder to budget prices on that, so I'd settle for canned. (which I don't mind having around anyway in case I'm out of fresh fruit and want to give DS some fruit with breakfast)

I should just out of curiosity figure out how many oz of juice that is when it's made and see how it ties in with the no more than 4-6 oz juice limit.

oh and one time when I was in there they gave me a flyer and the lady wrote on the back cautioning me not to give DS more than 11 oz of juice a day!! worse, in the flyer itself it said 'no more than 4-6 oz juice' *I* don't drink 11 oz. of juice a day!!! why would I give that much to a 30 lb. toddler?! And he's supposed to drink 11 oz of juice plus 16 oz. of milk?!?! how is a child supposed to fit anything else in their tummy?!

And while i'm on my rant, can we do something about the way they ask 'are you STILL breastfeeding?' I don't know they just don't ask it in a good way. I know they have to find out cause they give different food packages.

oh and the dietitian who said "well you *can* do it, there is a way" in a real snarky way when I said I wasn't dieting because I didn't think you were SUPPOSED to 'diet' and breastfeed. I said I was just focusing on eating healthy and cutting out junk. nothing wrong with that the way she sounded though you'd think I was like 300 lbs or something.

yeah they leave a lot to be desired, back to my original Q though how do you do something about it?

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#18 of 51 Old 07-13-2007, 08:59 AM
 
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Melanie - ITA with what you said! And the juice thing, ugh. Yeah, limit the juice, but here's 10X more than you need! I always ave the juice away. Sometimes I get the concentrated stuff and add double the water to it. That's too much sugar to drink it straight. I only like orange juice, so we get that with WIC. We don't even have the option of hormone-free milk up here . And we can't get anything organic either. But I hope that changes come September. How exactly are they helping people with nutrition when they give you such poor choices?

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#19 of 51 Old 07-13-2007, 09:14 AM
 
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I wish WIC in Vermont would let us pick stuff at the store. We get it delivered and don't have much in the way of choices.

That said, natural peaanut butter is one of the choices and we do get Farmer's Market vouchers. Also, we can choose to not get something if we won't use it.

I think it is wierd that you can't choose organic in states where you get to pick the food at the store yourself. I also think a lot of the WIC food offered here is anything but healthy (like the hydorgenated oil in the regular pb, all the sugar cereals, etc). I appreciate the thought about what WIC is about, but they really need a REAL nutritionist in there who knows what health actually means.
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#20 of 51 Old 07-13-2007, 11:02 AM
 
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Juice was treat in our house. Remember, a lot of WIC moms would be giving their kids "fruit drink" or soda instead.

We used the peanut butter and Rice Crispies to make rice crispy treats. Somewhat healthier than other snacks and cakes.

I used the beans to make soups, yum!

We got farmer's market checks once or twice a year. I don't remember. We never used them since there was no close market and we didn't have a lot of time.

I can't afford to buy my family organic when I'm paying for the stuff myself so I didn't expect the Commonwealth of PA to pay for organic either...

We were just happy when Genaurdi's allowed us to buy Kosher cheese with our checks. Its expensive and we were missing out on that benefit.
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#21 of 51 Old 07-13-2007, 02:49 PM
 
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This whole WIC thing makes me sad. I totally understand your feelings about "not being worthy of organics" Depressing!

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#22 of 51 Old 07-13-2007, 04:49 PM
 
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I didn't have time to read all the posts, and I know this is totally OT, but it just struck me that they allow tuna for breastfeeding mothers - aren't you not supposed to eat tuna b/c of mercury exposure? I mean, you can have a little of it, but why put it on the list if it's something that is not valuable to breastfeeding mothers? Sorry if someone has already said this...

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#23 of 51 Old 07-13-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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You have to remember that WIC is a supplemental nutrition program (not supposed to cover the family's entire food budget) looking at specific nutrients. They're looking at protein (beans or PB and eggs, plus tuna for nursing moms), calcium (milk and cheese), iron (fortified cereals) and vitamin C (fruit juices, plus carrots for nursing moms.)

They don't give plain oatmeal because it's not fortified with iron. And you can't get the super-sugary cereals either- just things like chex, cheerios, corn flakes, etc. No honey nut cheerios on WIC!!! I've heard people on other boards complain that WIC is a waste because they won't cover the sweetened cereals their families eat.

For a lot of families, WIC represents an improvement in what they eat. Lots of kids are drinking sweetened "juice drinks" with synthetic additives- now they can drink real juice instead. As I mentioned above, WIC cereals are far less sugary than what a lot of kids would otherwise be eating.

I hate that they say "no organic" across the board. Why not have a dollar amount they can't go over (which they already have) and you can only get organic if it doesn't go over the dollar limit? Why shouldn't you be able to get organic cheese if it's on sale that week? Or store brand natural peanut butter for the same price as the national brand's "regular" version? Why not give the option of fruit in place of some or all of the juice?

I honestly don't think that 1 can of tuna a week is too much of a mercury risk for nursing moms. It's not even on the list of things I'd like to see addressed about the WIC program. Options for egg, dairy, and/or peanut allergic kids is something I'd like to see addressed.

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#24 of 51 Old 07-23-2007, 07:05 PM
 
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I had my first WIC shopping experience today. What fun. My first stop was my local natural foods co-op. I chatted with one of the women working there who said that they can't really participate in WIC because they don't carry the brands that sponsor WIC. Yep, the program is sponsored by our lovely corporate conglomerate giants, generally hoping to get their brand names etched into our kids' heads at a very early age. I know, they do serve a much-needed purpose to those of us who don't have unlimited resources, but still, I was really horrified at the blatant marketing aspect of this supposed social service. It's a marketing ploy, masquerading as a social service. For shame.
I felt very demeaned and taken advantage of, being told which brands of food I could buy as if I don't have a clue about how to feed my child. And I usually have no shame about asking for social services that my tax dollars ought to be paying for but aren't, because all our tax money is spent waging nasty, illegal wars across the globe. I am irked today.
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#25 of 51 Old 07-23-2007, 07:43 PM
 
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As far as the title of your post, "making healthy choices on WIC" is a real challenge. IMO it is more of a subsidy program to help processed food companies and industrial dairy farmers, than to actually help women and children eat healthy. and ITA with perceiving a less-than-supportive attitude towards BFing. even when my son was under a year, they made it pretty clear that they were astonished that he was 'still' BFed, like i was scamming them to get carrots & tunafish when i should have been taking cases of formula for DS like any normal mom. : GRR. it made me feel kind of freakish and lonely, honestly, and we just stopped going back to recertify after he was about 18m.

that said, we used WIC to stock up on dry beans, Quaker instant oatmeal cereal (for busy mornings), and gave away the milk we couldn't use. we ate a lot of quesadillas! and drank a lot of Juicy Juice [until i learned in the middle of our WIC use that Libby, maker of Juicy Juice, is owned by Nestle. at the same time i learned that Nestle, a formula manufacturer, uses marketing practices very hostile to BFing, so i now boycott them. it irks me that WIC supports them, but then WIC is a major customer for infant formula.]

so ITA with joybird and AngelBee about the depressing aspects of what is supposed to be a helpful supplemental 'nutrition' program. i agree that OJ and milk are better than sodas and twinkies, but it feels demeaning that mothers cannot pick the brands they prefer. i would rather get fewer items of quality food than 6 1/2 gallons/month of rBGH milk etc. at least mama's have discretion over the use of the farmer's market coupons . i like Ruthla's suggestion about a discrete $$ limit rather than WIC-approved brands.

one last WIC rant - what does a mama/baby with food allergies do with WIC? dairy, wheat, corn, soy, PB - do they allow substitutions, or do you just go without?


ETA - here is a link to WIC recipes from another post.

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#26 of 51 Old 07-23-2007, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I always thought brown eggs were better than white for reasons of biodiversity. I can't remember where I read it though.

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#27 of 51 Old 07-23-2007, 10:56 PM
 
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I have seriously mixed feelings about wic. I appreciate the free food, to some degree, but the pickyness of the program is just maddneing. Here in OH, the only peanut butter I can get is full of hydrogenated oils and sugar. It blows. I really, really wish I could get organics, but no, course not... personally I'm just in love w/ giant eagle these days, what with there hormone-free milk. I totaly appreciate the juice though, as I'm a huge juice drinker always have been... The tuna though, ugh. a can a week is jsut WAY too much... I must have a dozen cans in the cupboard at this point....

But seriously, the amount of milk and cheese we get is totally insane. Even wiht me, dh and my dad eating/drinking it we STILL can't possibly get through it all... and I buy oreos just so I'll drink the damn milk!!
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#28 of 51 Old 07-23-2007, 11:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by joybird View Post
I had my first WIC shopping experience today. What fun. My first stop was my local natural foods co-op. I chatted with one of the women working there who said that they can't really participate in WIC because they don't carry the brands that sponsor WIC. Yep, the program is sponsored by our lovely corporate conglomerate giants, generally hoping to get their brand names etched into our kids' heads at a very early age. I know, they do serve a much-needed purpose to those of us who don't have unlimited resources, but still, I was really horrified at the blatant marketing aspect of this supposed social service. It's a marketing ploy, masquerading as a social service. For shame.
I felt very demeaned and taken advantage of, being told which brands of food I could buy as if I don't have a clue about how to feed my child. And I usually have no shame about asking for social services that my tax dollars ought to be paying for but aren't, because all our tax money is spent waging nasty, illegal wars across the globe. I am irked today.
:

In NC, I believe they allowed soy milk and organics and free-range things. I always saw the WIC approved labels under them. Here in IL, no matter what, they will not let us get soy milk (dd was allergic and we are lactose intolerant), and we are not allowed to get anything even labeled "natural". Because we all know people already in poverty need more hydrogenated oils. :

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#29 of 51 Old 07-24-2007, 01:38 AM
 
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and I buy oreos just so I'll drink the damn milk!!

I have totally done that!

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#30 of 51 Old 07-24-2007, 02:12 AM
 
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I try to choose things that are as healthy as they will allow. I wished they offered more organic or natural choices. As for the people who can't get anything organic or natural, well that just plain crazy. : You would think that if they truly wanted women and children to be healthy, they would offer those choices. But what can be do when they are run by big corporations that don't care about our health.

I am using WIC with my girls. While I like that it gives me some extra food when money is tight. Although I rarely go through 9 gallons of milk a month. I think they push milk a little too much. but I can get organic milk, which is lovely, and I can get natural peanut butter. I think that is the only natural or organic things you can get. Well you can get organic carrots if your pregnant or nursing. One thing that bugged me is that I tried to get farmers market checks and they only had a limited amount. They started giving them out at the beginning of June and my last appointment was on the 22nd of June and they were out of checks for the year. They have so much information about the farmers market checks, but they don't give them to everyone. I never once saw that in the information that I read. :

Sorry for my long post, just figured I would add my thoughts.

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