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April focus groups for local WIC clients

The Spokane Regional Health District's Women Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program and Vinegar Flats Community Farm are looking for your input. From SRHD: "If you are currently a WIC client who did or did not use Famers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks during spring or summer 2013, we encourage you to particpate in a quick 1.5 - 2 hour focus group to help us determine barriers to usage of FMNP vouchers, motivation to use FMNP vouchers and ways to increase accessibility."

Participants will receive a free lunch or dinner during the focus group, generously provided by New Leaf Bakery, as well as a $25 voucher, per family, good toward purchase of fresh fruits and veggies at local farmers' markets for spring/summer 2014.

WIC provides families with nutrition as well as healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and whole grains. According to Washington State Department of Health and Human Services data, there are thousands of women in Spokane County who qualify for WIC services based on income alone, but who do not participate. Even more concerning, the same data shows an even larger number of infants and children, five years and younger, in Spokane County who qualify for WIC services based on income alone, but who are not enrolled.

After the jump are the focus group details.

Federal Government Shutdown and WIC

We keep finding more of the very dangerous direct impacts from the government shutdown but here's an update on one that hits close to home: 

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program announced that there are no additional federal funds available to continue the program during the shutdown, some states, like Washington, have some funds available to continue operations in the short-term.

Washington state has been authorized to use these reserve program funds to continue providing WIC benefits to clients in our state. Here is what they know specific to Spokane County at this time:

-They have sufficient funding to support just over nine days of operations.

-They can pay for any WIC checks sent to the bank during that time.

-WIC clients with checks for the month of October are now being encouraged to use the checks at their local grocery store before Oct 10, 2013.

Simpson amendment to add potatoes to WIC program clears House committee

Second District Congressman Mike Simpson's amendment to include fresh potatoes in the federal WIC nutrition program has cleared a House committee. “Fresh potatoes have been excluded from the WIC program despite their widely known nutritional value,” the potato-state lawmaker said. “This amendment corrects the exclusion of fresh potatoes and allows participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families.”

The amendment to the 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill was approved on a voice vote in the House Appropriations Committee, on which Simpson serves; click below for his full news release.

Expanded hours at WIC locations

Good news: Spokane Regional Health District’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program kicked off spring by extending its hours of operations in most of its clinic locations. The following sites will operate from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (with no closures for lunch):

Downtown – 1101 W. College Avenue, 324-1620
NECC – 4001 N Cook, 323-2828
Valley – 10814 E. Broadway Ave, 323-2800
North – 5901 N. Lidgerwood Street, Ste 224

"We want to be as flexible as we can in supporting Spokane’s nutritionally at-risk women, infants and children,” said Tiffany Schamber, WIC program manager. “Expanding our hours will improve access to our services, which is a win not only for our clients, but also our community. WIC is one of the nation’s most successful and cost-effective nutrition intervention programs.”

WIC provides families with nutrition as well as healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and whole grains.

Simpson amendment adds potatoes to WIC program for at-risk pregnant women, infants

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has successfully added an amendment to the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill in the House to include fresh potatoes in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. WIC provides supplemental nutritious foods to low-income at-risk pregnant women, infants and young children; it provides things like infant cereal, iron-fortified adult cereal, vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried and canned beans and peas and canned fish. The program also offers tofu, fruits and vegetables, baby foods and whole-wheat bread.

Simpson, in a news release, said, “Fresh potatoes have been excluded from the WIC program despite their widely known nutritional value. This important amendment corrects the unfair exclusion on fresh potatoes and allows participants to make smart wholesome food choices for their young families.”

Simpson is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which approved his amendment and the full bill yesterday; the bill now awaits consideration by the full House.

Hold the phones -

"The good news is there is no need to contact Sen Brown today, as the Ways & Means committee has decided to restore funding in their proposed budget! They have taken the recommendation we discussed last year, which is a huge victory. This budget proposal will now need to be reconciled with the one proposed by the House of Representatives (in which funding for the program is cut) - so there may still be the need for phone calls in the next week or so."

Via e-mail from Brian Estes this morning

Solution to save WIC funding from budget cuts

Two weeks ago I mentioned the unfair cuts to agriculture
, specifically to WIC funding. Here’s your chance to speak out. For a little background, the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP) provides vouchers to low-income mothers and children to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables directly from farmers at farmers markets. This program secured $613,000 in federal dollars last year.

The problem is Governor Gregoire’s budget maintains the program for 2011, but then it eliminates all funding for the program in 2012.  Without a state program the federal funds will go to a different state.

Here’s the request: Transfer $50,000 from 2011 funds into 2012 funds. This will not change the Governor's budget BUT it will restore the program for 2012. And it keeps federal dollars coming to Washington State for fresh, local fruits and vegetables for low-income kids.