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.