Friday, July 4, 2008

Let's get some people riled up.

I'm going to do it. I'm going to talk about WIC and what I find lame about it.

Let me first say though, that when women ~need~ it, I think it's a great program. When buying milk and fruits and cereal is a hardship, having this program available is a godsend.

But here it is ... Qualifying for WIC does not mean you should take it.

This is a program of need, not want. I can't tell you the number of people I see whipping out their WIC forms at the grocery store while the rest of their groceries include high priced steaks and sodas. WIC is not so you just can get free things. It's for women who ~need~ help buying these items to stay healthy during pregnancy and allow their children to be healthy. If you honestly don't need it, why take it? It's like going to the soup kitchen for dinner when you have a pocket full of money.

Hey, things are hard right now. Gas prices are crazy. The cost of living is going up. The job market isn't the best. I understand WIC does allow many, many, many families to not worry about budgeting for these items, so they can afford gas and their mortgage or rent. But when families use this program to get free items and then use the money they "save" on McDonald's everyday? Yeah, that bothers me.

Now, I don't think people on WIC should not go out and splurge on going out to dinner or buying steaks. I don't believe in keeping the 'needy' down. But when the recipients aren't really needy, I think it's really immoral to TAKE. If WIC really helps you on a month to month basis - great, it's a program for you. But if WIC simply allows you to get some things you would normally buy for free? Yeah. That's my point.

Another thing I think WIC is a disadvantage for is breastfeeding. WIC just gives out free formula. For women on the fence about breastfeeding, the aspect of free formula gives an advantage to simply giving up on breastfeeding.

I'm pro-breastfeeding but I'm not anti-formula. If formula is the right choice for you, great. But I do believe there are advantages to breastfeeding and if possible, breastfeeding should be at least tried. I think too many women give up on it too early. True, many women cannot breastfeed, but I think that number is actually smaller than the amount of women who say so. It can be very hard, very frustrating and very painful. It can be a struggle. Sometimes it takes some serious motivation to push through this struggle. WIC dangles free formula in front of every woman on the program - and many just say "screw this" and takes the formula, when they really may have been able to overcome whatever breastfeeding issue they had.

Let me give an example. One of the teachers at my daughter's school was complaining about her milk not drying up. I asked her if she was done breastfeeding and her reply was "Why would I do that when I get free formula from WIC?". Ugh. I said "It's not free, everyone with a job pays for it." And she laughed saying "that's true! If you want to, you can write a check directly to me!" and continued to laugh and laugh. (hence the reason this whole subject is on my mind) Maybe she would have given breastfeeding a shot if she had to pay for formula. But maybe not.

So that's my opinion on the subject.

And just to let you know, I'm not going to create a big debate here in the comments. You can agree. You can disagree. But PLEASE understand I know there are two sides to every subject. Usually posts like this will create a huge amount of personal stories which points out why I am "wrong", but understand that I ~know~ there are going to be those stories. I understand some women really can ~not~ breastfeed. I understand some families really need WIC. No need for anyone to take this personally. If WIC really helped you financially, I'm happy it worked for you, as you are the type of family it was designed for. If you really couldn't breastfeed or if you simply choose not to, I'm glad formula is such a great product these days.

I'm simply giving my opinion on those who really do ~not~ need WIC but take it anyway. Or those who could have breastfed, but the aspect of free formula was what changed their minds. That's all.

23 comments:

Kim said...

I agree! And WIC is just one of the many programs and benefits that can be used for the wrong reasons. I hate when people take advantage of the system when there is no real need there. I look at it like taking from those with a real need!

Lara said...

Tell it sister! I hate to see people abusing the system or accepting help when they can get by without it. I know people that have accepted it because they felt "entitled" to it because they pay taxes. I think that giving the assistance to people hurts them because they don't feel a need or desire to better themselves if they can get a hand out. I also feel that everyone should have at least one child if they want to have children. However if you can't afford to buy milk for your baby then you shouldn't have another one and if you do you shouldn't qualify for assistance. I think that society as a whole has become more and more irresponsible and feel that people should be more accountable for their actions.

But like you said there are cases that need the assistance but it should be a temporary thing to get through a rough patch, not something to become dependent on and not something to be accepted just because you can.

Anonymous said...

This is just a thought, but if you qualify for the program, then why not take advantage of it? Essentially, your tax dollars are going to fund the program anyway. Why not reap some of the benefits for which you contribute to?

Also, some women simply choose to formula feed instead of breastfeeding simply because they do not enjoy breastfeeding. It isn't simply an if you can or if you cannot decision. If you are capable of breastfeeding and simply do not enjoy the process and formula feeding is more enjoyable for you, then there is no reason to force yourself to do something that you do not enjoy.

JMO. :)

Sarah R said...

WIC giving free formula is one thing I really don't understand. While I'm not a 'lactivist', I do believe that more people should give breastfeeding a try. So many people say, "Oh, it didn't work because the supply wasn't there." Breastfeeding is supply and demand, people. Before the invention of formula, mothers HAD to breastfeed their children to keep them alive. You're telling me that so many of these modern-day women's children would just die then? A woman's body is prepared to nourish her baby and unless she has some strange medical condition, I don't buy the "I didn't make enough milk" excuse.

No, I'm not anti-formula, but I DO know people who were on WIC who said, "hey, free formula. Why would I want do breastfeed?" It doesn't make sense to me because studies show that breastfed babies are healthier because they get Mom's immunities (meaning less trips to the doctor, in most cases).

The other thing (not related to WIC) I don't understand is when Enfamil sends me 2 huge cans of formula just after my new baby is born. I can totally see how some moms see that sitting on the counter as they're just figuring out the latch and struggling with the normal issues of being a new breastfeeding mom. "Oh, maybe I'll just try it once" and then all of a sudden they're using formula. For the record, I gave those two cans to my neighbor who used that kind of formula.

Cue Vent: In regards to WIC, it's for people who truly need it. I would get annoyed too if I saw someone go through the line with Doritos, Ding Dongs, and Pepsi and "oh, here's my WIC card, thanks". Even worse is these mothers who can still afford their cigarettes and drinking money but somehow need WIC to get their milk and cheese. PRIORITIES, people. You knew this baby was coming when you got pregnant and had nine months to save up for it. /End vent. ;)

Carrie Ann said...

I hate it when people take charity when they really don't need it - they take away from those who really do need it and milk us taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

My sister gets WIC. She is a graduate of The University of Michigan and chooses not to work and to have baby after baby. She has breast fed her babies but has struggled to do it for the first year of their lives...She stopped with her second, connor, after a few months cause she was sick of it...Now, after reading your post, I'm wondering if it's because she knew she could get free formula...I didn't know formula was part of what was free...I thought it was just cereal, milk, etc. That really pisses me off. I can't stand people who take advantage of programs like this. I love my sister but her mentality frustrates me.

nancy said...

Anon#1 - WIC is a very HIGH qualification program. You don't have to be too low on the income level to get it. That's why more qualify than need. It's not like food stamps, for example. If you qualify for food stamps, you probably sure the hell need it.

And I totally agree with your breastfeeding thing. There are just some women who don't want to - but I am talking about the ones who COULD (exluding those who don't) and free formula brings them to the formula side.

Jen said...

I totally agree. I can't afford to stay home with my DD and it frustrates me that I'm paying for others to stay home with theirs. My Stepsister (19) is one of them. She even decided not to marry her boyfriend (2 DD's Dad) becuase she didn't want to lose any assistance. I don't think she even tried to BF.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with you on this one. My hubby & I started young by surprise and we used WIC with our first 2 babies. By the time we had #3 we were well established and even though we qualified, I decided not to use it. Things like WIC & food stamps are something families should use as a temporary crutch, not a permanent fix.

JamieD said...

I agree with you 100%. I can't imagine the shape we would be in if people didn't 'abuse the system.'

This isn't a WIC story, but I was actually behind a woman in the grocery store who made a comment about buying her dog steaks because food stamps didn't pay for dog food. I don't remember why or how she said it because I have tried to block it from my memory since it made me SO ANGRY.

It is bad enough that she did it, but does she have to tell everyone?!?!

Sugar&Ice said...

I agree with you on all counts, Nancy. Most government funded assistance programs are taken advantage of by many. I know people who have been taking advantage of the system for years...remaining unmarried strictly so they don't have to count the income of their partner, so they can in turn qualify for WIC or food stamps when they truly don't need them.

The breastfeeding issue is one close to my heart. I am not a breasfeeding Nazi by any means, because it really did take us weeks and weeks to get the hang of it. I know it's not for everyone, but like you I wonder how many of those moms would have stuck with it if they weren't having free formula offered at that very emotionally testing time.

butterfly397 said...

Just a thought to add. I don't know if it's true in every area, but the WIC office around us will lend a new mom a hospital grade breast pump to use if she choses to breastfeed. So if someone on WIC truly wants to breastfeed, WIC will encourage it. But I totally agree that there seems to be too many people who take advantage of it. I was watching the news the other night and they were in a grocery store talking to people about the high cost of food. One of the people even jokingly asked the reporter for money! And I know people are struggling, but they then showed them with their carts full of soda, and loading up in their huge SUVs (again, nothing against SUVs). It just seemed like they could be spending money better.

nancy said...

butterfly - yup, I know they are pro breastfeeding if breastfeeding is chosen. Which is great for the mom who knows she wants to breastfeed. But having a pump available isn't really a big "pro" for the mom who is on the fence for breastfeeding in the beginning. Heck, pumps hurt more than breastfeeding itself when you first start using them. But I am glad it's offered. I just don't think having a good pump available really helps in that decision moms have to make in the very beginning. If after the first few days they decide breastfeeding is too damned hard and they can just get formula for ~free~, the aspect of being able to use a pump isn't going to keep them breastfeeding.

Twin Mama said...

Totally agree with you on all points. It's pretty sick that your daycare teacher is chosing not to breastfeed simply because of the 'free' formula. Fine if you choose not to do so for other reasons, or simply cant, but that shouldn't be your motivator, IMO.

I do wonder about WIC and formula though - I know another twin mother in my area who is going through some financial hardship. Her twins were preemies and had some health issues so needed to be on a specific type of special formula and WIC would not provide that to them - only the basic formula was provided. Our twins club stepped in to make donations for them. It was a shame that WIC couldn't help her in this case, when I know she truly needed it (not bashing WIC - just wondering about it, really).

Our family is complete said...

My boys are and were both formula fed and I paid for every single can. I never joined WIC even when my husband was a resident. Money was tight, but I felt because I made the decision to put my kids on formula I should pay for it. Yeah I used the formula checks that came in the mail, but the most I got off a can of formula was $5, and those came few and far between.

I am not going to sugar coat why I didn't breastfeed, like oh my milk didn't come in or he didn't latch correctly. I had PPD with Carter and did not like breastfeeding. I got into a huge depression and switching to formula was the best decision I made as a mother. He was a lot happier and so was I. Then when Peyton came along I got scared that I would go through the same thing so dedided to not give it a try. I don't think breastfeeding is for everyone and I commend the women who are able to do it and stick with it.

Amy

slacker001 said...

i agree with you wholeheartedly!!!! my husband is an IT consultant and as such (as i'm sure your aware) stands to make a comfortable living even here in the chicago area where cost of living is on the pricier side. at easter, he lost his job. i'm a SAHM. we hunted for 3 months to find either of us anything at all! our tax return was quickly running out and we were running out of options so we turned to WIC so that at very least, i wouldn't have to worry about our kids (4,2,1). well, once you qualify for WIC, your qualified for 6 months! 3 weeks after we started on the program, my husband found a job. yes, i could've continued to use WIC since we were still qualified, but i chose not to because i no longer had the NEED. i get unbelivably angry with the people with the mindset of "well, its there...why not!" i firmly believe programs like that are meant for the ones that are truley deserving! not for the greedy. its like food pantrys! i can't tell you how many times i donate food to our food pantry to see a recipient placing it into his almost brand new lexus. thats why i no longer donate, its not helping the needy! its helping either the lazy, unworthy, or greedy and i'm not interested in helping them. thanks for posting!!

~Joe said...

I agree, my dad actually talked to me about this a while back, he told me young people end up getting trapped in the system because its so easy, so these programs don't help people that struggle but actually keep them down, why try to get a job and better yourself when the govt is giving you free money for popping out kids, once you get a decent job they take the free stuff away and your thrown into the real world where everythings up to you, you lose that safety net... my cousins getting full heath care with Medicaid while were buried by co pays...why would anyone wanna give that up? It's a horrible cycle that a lot of young end up falling into, things need to change and fast

Aimee & Hannah said...

I COULDN'T AGREE WITH YOU MORE!!!

Laura & Paul said...

The concept of getting something for nothing bothers me. Wouldn't it be interesting if those that received WIC had to, I don't know do something to earn it? What if they had to spend 2 hours a week doing some kind of community service? Wouldn't those that really need it, do anything to get it? While those who are abusing the system, wouldn't think it was "worth" their time?

Searching said...

Amen!!!

Cate said...

While I didn't qualify for WIC (a rarity at the clinic I go to) I could have used it. I struggled and fought with Lex for the first two weeks of his life attempting daily to get him to latch and stay on the breast and when I failed I pumped dutifully until he had an allergic reaction to my milk because I was on pencillin for a severe sinus infection. I dreaded putting him on formula but when he was changed to a fairly expensive type we looked into WIC because I wasn't working (mandatory 8 weeks of leave due to csection and it was all unpaid) and DH was just barely covering our bills. I hate that people take advantage when people who could really use the help can't. People suck sometimes...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree! How sad it takes a post on freeloaders to get me out of lurking mode! Nancy, I have been reading your blog a few months now, and you definitely intrigue me with your sometimes brutally honest outlook and opinions! Congrats on the baby, you have come a long way to get here huh? Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I work with this girl who is still bf'ing her 13 month old but gets all her WIC formula and SELLS IT ON EBAY!!! I have thought about reporting her, but honestly I am not sure how to go about doing it. However, she is also with a Hispanic man who stays home with her two kids. She is pretty low on the totem pole and probably makes a maximum of 30,000/ year. How frustrating they have the luxury of having someone stay home while my husband and I and a million other parents in this country juggle our schedules to where we don't have to do daycare but usually we just meet the other coming or going!! I have heard he is an illegal immigrant and that is the real reason why he doesn't work, but, forgive me for my bluntness here, if that is the case there are plenty of illegal immigrants who are happy to work at a shitty job for little pay illegally so what the hell is stopping him from contributing to the family he created???

Julie said...

From an email forward I received...thought it was applicable to this post :)

MY JOB AND THE URINE TEST

Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test. Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their butt, doing drugs, while I work. . .

Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?

Something has to change in this country -- and soon!