A screenshot of the Florida Department of Health website (Pic via doh.state.fl.us)
A screenshot of the Florida Department of Health website (Pic via doh.state.fl.us)

Local WIC program reopens as U.S. House prepares to slash national budget

By | 06.14.11 | 2:43 pm

A Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinic in High Springs, Fla., reopened its doors yesterday after it was closed down due to budget cuts in 2009. But just as the clinic reopens, the U.S. House is ready to slash $868 million from the program’s national budget.

WIC is a nonprofit federal grant service for needy women and children. The money given to states provides “supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.”

David Kastensmidt, the coordinator of the North Central Florida WIC program, told the North Florida Herald that the clinic served 500 regular participants before it shut down.

The local WIC program was reinstated as “a part-time distribution center in High Springs because there was a significant population that has had to travel to other clinics to receive WIC benefits.”

The Associated Press has reported that the U.S. House is leveling a 13 percent cut, $1.3 billion “below the administration’s request,” to the WIC budget this year:

That has Democrats and advocates for the poor howling that it could mean that more than 200,000 people would be turned away from the program if food prices rise as expected.

“Tightening our belts is one thing. But people who depend on supplemental food programs, like WIC, or food stamps, or school lunches, have belts that are already cinched,” said Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.

On a state and federal level, conservative legislators are aggressively pursuing policies that reduce abortion rights and access for low-income and at risk women, while simultaneously cutting much-needed aid and health care once these women give birth.

The Florida Legislature passed five bills aimed limiting abortion rights in the state, while also slashing money from programs that give health care and aid to at-risk mothers in the state.

Gov. Rick Scott exacerbated the situation by slashing several health care services for women and children, as well as programs such as nurse partnerships for at-risk first-time mothers, life-saving tests for newborns and vaccinations for postpartum women, to name a few.

WIC currently provides food aid to about 9 million poor mothers and their children and pregnant women in the U.S.

The AP also reports that “food safety programs and a childhood obesity initiative backed by First Lady Michele Obama, also gets a big cut in the U.S. House budget.”

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