Ram's mom listened to a NPR show a few years ago and told us that WIC was drastically changing their program soon to include fresh fruits and veggies. Then I thought I'll believe it when I see it. My friends in Wisconsin told me they get vouchers to go to the farmer's market. When I talked to our WIC office at that time, they said we are a long way away from farmer's market, but fresh fruits and veggies were coming, but they didn't know when.
Then I heard that the changes were finally here in August. The problem was that we had just received our vouchers and didn't have an appointment until October. Some of our friends had their appointments and talked about how wonderful the program was now. I finally had our appointment this week and got my new vouchers.
Lamb 1 has outgrown WIC. It goes from pregnant until age 5. Lamb 2 and 3 are both on WIC and even though Lamb 3 still breastfeeds at night, he has outgrown the breastfeeding benefits. When you pick up your WIC vouchers you meet with them and they talk about nutrition. Then you have some choices like would you like peanut butter or dried beans? With the changes in the program I had a lot more choices to make today. Because I have two children, I was able to choose a lot more. There are very specific directions about what brands/kinds of the foods you are allowed to get. Infants and breastfeeding mothers get a lot more benefits that aren't shown in our Lambs vouchers.
Here is what we used to get for Lamb 2 and 3 each month before the new program:
(This is the total amount we get for both of them together.)
8 lbs of cheese
6 juice (either frozen or bottled)
2 dozen eggs
4 gallons milk
2 peanut butter
36 oz+36 oz cereal
This what we get for Lamb 2 and 3 each month with the new program:
(This is the total amount we get for both of them together. This shows what choices I made-another person in WIC may have made totally different choices so their vouchers may look very different. For example, they may have chose all peanut butter and no beans. Obviously because we have two children in WIC, we get more than a person with only one child.)
7 gallons milk
1 package corn or whole grain tortillas
1 package dry beans, peas, or lentils
36 oz+ 36 oz cereal
4 refrigerated or frozen juice
3 packages brown rice or oatmeal
2 dozen eggs
12 dollars fresh fruits or veggies (or frozen or canned ones that are allowed)
1 lb cheese
4 canned beans
My biggest complaint with the WIC before the changes was you were not allowed to get plain oatmeal, only instant. We use a lot of oatmeal for eating for breakfast, meatloaf, cookies, etc. I still think the new program gives far too much milk, but other than that, I can tell it is much improved in the new program to eat healthier. We actually cook from scratch and use these ingredients in our cooking a lot-canned beans, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, brown rice, oatmeal, dried beans, dried peas, dried lentils, and tortillas. We will really use the new items in the program. I'm not sure the average person on WIC would use all these items, but maybe if they get them free they will try a new recipe?
We are so thankful to be part of WIC and we know that it saves us a lot of money on groceries. I also like to be part of a program that the government is supporting mothers and children. It is a positive to me that the mothers didn't abort the babies and the government supports that. It is another positive to me that if you have a large family, you get more support for all those children age 5 and under. There aren't very many government programs like that.
After reading this post by Pam, Ram has a new goal to get me pregnant so we get even more WIC! If you don't know-I'll be 36 in November, I eat healthy, I'm 5'10, and we have 3 Lambs.
It will take us a few months to get used to shopping with the new program. With the old program, Ram pretty much had memorized what to get. He would go get the WIC while I did the regular shopping. Whoever was done first (it was usually Ram) would meet the other and help them finish shopping and then we would check out together. It won't be so clear cut now as many of the new WIC items are on our regular grocery list. We may need to shop together for a few months until we get used to the program. If it saves us money, it is worth that extra time to learn the program.