Thursday, December 2, 2010

Controversial .. Perhaps? : Welfare & WIC vs Food Choice

Good Morning folks : )

When I first sat down and thought about writing this post, I started to get a little nervous as this blog has usually been on the light and airy side featuring healthy recipes, work outs, etc but maybe the snow has also brought in with it a need for truth. I know that the welfare and unemployment systems have been a topic of controversy for a very long time and especially now with benefits running out in the past week. However, I ran across an article yesterday that really got me thinking and to be honest a little perturbed. (oh yea.. I said it.. perturbed)

I read an article yesterday that was discussing white potatoes being added to the list of approved food for WIC and how one man went on a potato diet for an extended period of time to prove they are not detrimental to your health. He lost weight, his cholesterol and blood pressure came down and obviously that must mean that the food is healthy? Anyone remember the Twinkie diet? yea that guy lost weight too ...that doesnt mean that its healthy to shove a whole box of processed white flour, sugar and cream into your mouth everyday.

It was a comment on this article however that got me thinking about how the government handles food for those less fortunate ( or those working the system). The comment sounded something like this (paraphrasing of course)

" I went to get my mail in my apartment building and saw a woman on her Blackberry smartphone with her coach bag, hair and nails done.. complaining that she didnt get her welfare check yet" The comment really got to me because it was the perfect example of how people cheat the system. This got me thinking about government programs dealing with food. I have seen first hand how people abuse WIC and welfare..I think we all have.

I have been behind someone in the grocery store with their cart filled with freetos, cheese curls, soda, sugary cereals, pop tarts, cookies etc. and diapers. Obviously,there was a child at home and I have seen it all be paid for with food stamps. My heart ached for the poor kid who wasnt going to see even one green vegetable. The only piece of food that came from the earth in that entire cart were bananas.. Everyone likes a treat now and then.. and I dont know one kid that hasnt eaten some smore flavored pop tarts but come on.. and you are using government money to feed your kids food that will make them unhealthy, overweight, lose focus in school and basically raise the chances that your child too will become unhealthy or unable to educate themselves therefore perpetuating the welfare cycle?

I have also seen first hand accounts of people with joint incomes brag about how much money their husbands make "under the table" and then talk about how they use WIC as cigarette ashes are falling on their 8 month pregnant belly. If you dont care enough about your babies health to not smoke the entire time youre pregnant than why do you care if they get healthy food options? and if your spouse makes so much money (illegally I might add) then why are you using the WIC program? You can afford a loaf of bread and fruit..why are you draining the system when there are others that could truly use the help?

I understand that there are truly good people with great work ethics out there that use these programs correctly and it really helps them. To these people I say I am sorry you are struggling and I commend you for doing everything you can to provide for yourself and your family in hard times. I know its not great to focus on the bad.. but I havent heard much of any discussion about these types of topics in the blogging communities and I would really like peoples opinions! Whether you agree with me or not.

So I guess the question I am posing is.. are these programs working? Should the government regulate what food you can buy if you are on welfare? Especially if you are stating that you cant work because of health issues? ( depending on the health issue of course)


  1. I agree the system is a little off. However, healthy foods are more expensive, and natural vegetables/fruits perish quickly. Therefore, if the govt were to give these out as options, they would have to give more out, more often.

  2. That is true but then you get the debate of quality over quantity. There are some that would argue that eating nutritionally absent foods isnt providing sustinance for your body and therefore your body is starving for nutrients. So is it better to spend your limited funds on 5 apples to last 2 days or 3 bags of cheetos that will last a week but not offer any nutrition for growth and development?

  3. Perhaps it goes back to the question of will taxpayers pay more to put healthier food in the system?

  4. I disagree with Anonymous b/c - what about frozen veggies/fruits? or canned options? Frozen lean meats (chicken breasts, etc)
    None of those are overly expensive (certainly not as much as fresh produce) yet they hold much more nutritional value. I do think that funds that are given for a program like WIC or welfare should be regulated. Should the government tell me how to spend my money that I earn with my job? no. Should they correctly funnel the money to go where it was intended for these programs (and be able to say what you can use it for)? absolutely. That's my opinion- but the larger picture is education - educate the people on these programs to how they can spend it well and eat well at the same time.

    I also don't think that that should mean poor people who have to utilize these programs get no "treats" either- but I honestly think there should be a limit on those things- and with today's technology, I'm sure that can be done.

    In my opinion- white potatoes should be included. The extreme example by the man (who was a top official for the big Potato producers of the country) was trying to illustrate that potatoes shouldn't be labeled as "bad" just because they aren't a green leafy...

  5. Its a huge mess because everything (especially with the current political mess) is met with adversity. I mean we cant even put healthy food into school lunches without parents saying its their right to help their kids become obese? I honestly dont think that people will make this a priority over some other things bc the effects are not immediate. People are about what is immediately facing them.

  6. @lola I agree with you totally. It is all about education which is why I think that if you are part of a program such as WIC or Welfare it should mean that you attend classes on financial planning, health and nutrition, job searching, etc. You cant be suprized if people live of the govt forever if they have never been given the tools to survive on their own, right? Education them on how to spend the same amount of money but spend it cooking nutritious meals and not garbage.

  7. I'm not sure it would be feasible to prevent recipients from purchasing unhealthy foods, but I would support that. There should be some incentive to purchase healthy foods, like Lola mentioned, frozen veggies/meat are affordable.

    The only way our health care costs as a country will be controlled is if we all get serious about making smart food choices for ourselves and for our children. Most people don't want to modify their eating patterns that have been ingrained in them over the years.

    In an ideal society everyone would have enough funds to buy fresh organic produce and other healthy whole foods. But in reality, the poor will have to compromise and go with the most affordable food options.

    Giving assistance to the poor isn't productive by itself, it must include education on healthy eating and lifestyle habits. (i.e. not smoking)

    And on potatoes...
    they are not unhealthy, they are an excellent choice for carbs. They have vitamin C. The starch in a potato provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and reduces fat storage...Organic is best, no pesticides on the skins...

    Nice Post!

  8. Thank you tyler. I agree fully that education is the key especially when there are so much false advertising! Aka hfcs commercials

  9. I know that certain states do set limits on what you can purchase with WIC funds. They include milk, peanut butter, tuna fish, beans, bread, juices, cheese, and cereal. It also includes a stipend for FRESH fruit and veg. This helps to ensure that children are eating nutritious foods, at least part of the time. These funds are set up so that they cannot be spent on non-WIC approved items. They also cannot be traded for cash.