WIC rethinks organic ban

| December 06, 2007
At the last minute, the Montana Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program has backed away from a plan to cut organic products from its list of approved foods. The cost-saving measure was scheduled to go into effect Dec. 1, but state WIC director Joan Bowsher said Nov. 30 that officials put it on hold in response to widespread concern.

“We got feedback from a lot of people who had concerns about this decision,” says Bowsher. “There always is a lot of interest in making sure we supply the healthiest food possible for this high-risk targeted population that we serve.”

WIC food packages are available to low-income women who are pregnant or have young children, and more than 4,000 people in Missoula County and Flathead counties, among 22,000 statewide, rely on the program. In recent years, Montana WIC has struggled to manage the rising cost of food in the face of flat federal funding. Since 2006, the price of eggs has increased 80 percent, milk 23 percent and cheese 17 percent. And while cutting back organics may have saved some money, Bowsher says it’s not enough.

“Our overall budget dilemma goes far beyond organic foods,” she says. “Although removing organic foods would save the program some money, it’s difficult to calculate exactly how much. So, for the time being, we’re going to step back and study the issue further.”

Organic products may have won a temporary reprieve, but on March 1 officials plan to require WIC participants to begin buying the least expensive options in grocery stores, which will almost certainly rule out organic items. While it’s not a popular change, Bowsher says it’s one that’s already been made across the nation.

“As far as I know we are one of the very last states to go to the least expensive option,” she says. “And we are one of very few if not the only one to still allow organic products in the program.”

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To whom it may concern, I think that Missoula ladies should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of being thankful for WIC's continuing aide and being willing to make sacrifices so that WIC can continue to provide aide to as many families as possible, they would rather have WIC close its doors to many women and children in need just so they can continue to buy ridiculously overpriced organic foods. I understand as a mother and as a highly health conscious consumer, (with a very limited budget) that what we put in our bodies and the bodies of our children is extremely important. However, if it comes to putting someone else in jeopardy just so that I can serve my own selfish desires, I don't think that it is worth it. If Missoula women are so worried about chemicals and processed foods, the easiest alternative, (and by far the cheapest) is to grow your own garden using compost from your own kitchen. Yes, this may take some personal time, and (gasp) some physical labor, but it is possible for any individual in any situation - even an apartment (believe me, I've done it). Growing your own garden also provides a great activity to share with the kids. So, instead of wasting everyone's time with pitiful, selfish whining, we should be thanking WIC for making this decision and applauding them for choosing this path to serve as many women and children as possible instead of cringing at the idea of compromise on the behalf of the good of the whole. As for now, I say thank you to WIC for not following in the footsteps of so many programs and corporations before them.

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Posted by Anonymous on 12/13/2007 at 9:26 AM
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