KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A $1 trillion spending bill expected to be approved by President Obama to avoid a government shutdown includes a $93 million cut to the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.
The legislation would continue most government services, including WIC, at its current levels until September 30 of next year.
The nutrition education program serves 4,200 people at the Samuel Rodgers Health Centers, providing checks to low-income families so they can buy healthier foods. Although spending for WIC would be cut by $93 million nationally, Republicans also have changed the program so that white potatoes could be purchased with WIC checks, which is good news for potato farmers but something nutritionists say Americans don't need an incentive to eat.
"Studies have shown that women who receive WIC actually save Medicaid funds because they have healthier outcomes," said Eve Wells, WIC coordinator at Samuel Rodgers. "We like to get the women on as soon as we know they are pregnant. That way we can help them have a healthy pregnancy nutritionally."
Wells says lower priority children and families probably would be dropped from the program when deep cuts take effect.
And the types of food that can be purchased with WIC checks also may be restricted to save money.
Some lawmakers have called the spending bill a series of tough choices that are the result of compromises necessary in a divided government.