03 October 2013

While Nero Fiddles, Children Starve

Did you know that feeding infants is not considered an essential program by the government? 

On Oct. 1, as part the shutdown, the government quit supplying funds to WIC. WIC stands for Women, Infants, Children. It’s the program that provides food and such necessities as infant formula to the nearly 9 million women and children under five living at or below the poverty line in the U.S. 

According to Forbes, the USDA (which implements the program) has enough money in reserve to fund the program for about a week, but after that, there is no more money during the shutdown. Additionally, some states, such as Utah, has stopped accepting new applicants.

Stating the obvious,  Rev. Douglas Greenaway of National WIC Assn. told Forbes, “There are health consequences when mothers cannot provide food and nutrition for their kids,” said Rev. Greenaway. “There’ll be no infant formula and no breastfeeding support. If the baby doesn’t latch, that’s it.”

While Margaret Saunders, who runs the WIC office in Cook County (which includes Chicago), stressed to Forbes that the program is still running right now, the minute the reserve runs out, the program shuts down. “America is not realizing how many low-income pregnant women and children we have in this country,” she said. “They have no safety net. These women are trying to have a healthy pregnancy, and they’re asking, ‘how am I going to feed my family?’ It’s a terrifying moment, and it’s beyond my control.”

So while politicians in Washington, D.C. continue to posture and demand that “we have to get something out of this,” as Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) told the Washington Examiner, real Americans with real babies with real mouths to feed will be figuring out how to keep their children from starving.

SOVA, run by Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles, gives families in need with five days' worth of food and hygiene supplies in its three LA locations. It also offers referral services for other needs. 

Oct. 3: SOVA

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