It's hard to argue with the mission of the Women, Infants and Children Farmers Market Nutrition Program. This federal initiative aims to boost health among those most vulnerable to malnutrition, obesity, heart disease, cancers, and other health maladies by helping supply low-income women and young children with fresh fruits and vegetables they could not otherwise afford. More than 2 million Americans received benefits from WIC’s farmers market program in 2010 alone.
But despite the program’s wide reach and invaluable purpose, the 2012 appropriations bill cut its funding by 30 percent. As food writer Mark Bittman recently noted, about 300,000 families saw a decrease in their WIC benefits as a result of federal budget cuts. Sustainable food and anti-hunger advocates are pushing to get the WIC program’s funding restored in 2013, but it’s unclear whether they’ll succeed.
Leaving poor moms and children without healthy foods is an obvious public health problem. But slashing funding for programs that expand access to nutritious fruits and vegetables illustrates a larger, even more troubling trend: The sustainable food movement is an elitist one—and many Americans are just too poor to join the club.