From the get go I said I wanted to be authenticate sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus I wrote this post and specifically #7. So I thought I should probably follow my own advice if I was gonna dish it out like some crazed-advice-giving-snob.
So here it is, Diapers and I are on WIC. This is a government supplemental food assistance program for pregnant/postpartum/nursing mothers and children ages birth-five. And interestingly enough, after losing just a smidge over 75% of our household income due to me being laid off, this is all we qualified for in terms of government assistance. And this is crazy to me!! FirefighterDad’s income is not substantial. And I’m just floored that for a family of 4 (most programs count Baby Boy #2) we didn’t qualify for more. I suppose now I understand how so many people can be struggling and I can see first hand how the middle class really is shrinking – but that’s neither here nor there. #steppingoffofsoapbox.
Back to WIC. Honestly, I’m grateful for this. Do I wish I didn’t need it? Absolutely! Am I embarrassed? Not exactly. Is it helpful financially? Yes! And the way I look at it, is that I have worked for 6 years (not including HS and college years) and contributed a crap ton of money into these programs by way of taxes, so if I qualify and we need the help, I’m gonna take it. Sure, it’s a dent to my ego, but it is what it is.
And overall my experience was positive! I have heard quite a few horror stories about using WIC and some people have even said its not worth the hassle come checkout time and they STOP USING THE PROGRAM?! Say what?! So I psyched myself up, went on a day I was feeling good, when Diapers was at school, and I went having done my homework. I knew how much, what size quantities, flavors, brands, etc I could get. I then followed the advice of separating all items on the belt per check, and having the items in order on the belt as listed on each check. I had a very sweet cashier who clearly knew what she was doing, and having the items seperated AND in the order of the check seemed to make the whole process much smoother.
Now I will admit WIC isn’t ideal, it doesn’t cover everything, and you may have to pick brands, flavors, items, etc that you normally wouldn’t, BUT I found that I still had some choices and quite a bit of variety. One huge blessing is that Diapers’ milk is covered! Being lactose intolerant his milk is pricy. Even the generic Walmart brand adds up because he’s a kid and loves milk. And all it took was me telling the WIC nutritionist he’s lactose intolerant and BAM! he gets lactose free milk on his checks. No proof, no doctors note, nothing. So, if you have food allergies, sensitivities, etc be sure to speak up and say so!
I anticipate a lot of this food will be used to do some freezer cooking and stocking up on essentials like milk, bread, cheese, beans, cereal, juice, and frozen veggies because between both me and Diapers, we can’t go through it all, but having a stash with a baby on the way is never a bad thing.
So in a nutshell WIC has come a long way. Produce vouchers are now included for fresh and/or frozen, various milk options are available, options on grains are available, and cereal and juice options are available. This program is in no way meant to cover complete and balanced meals, but rather supplement and I find that it supplements the pricy food groups (with the exception of meat) such as dairy and produce. I figure that WIC will save my family about $100-$110 a month. Not too shabby!
As I learn more navigating this, I’ll be sure to update!