Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Because getting WIC isn't embarassing enough

Because we're broker than a broke thing at the Brokedown Palace, I checked into WIC. We qualified. I'm not thrilled about this, but we certainly could use the assistance. I hate taking handouts, but I'd also hate to starve and/or lose my house. So I swallowed my pride and went to the WIC office today.

While I was there, answering questions about our eating habits and getting information on CSAs and food share programs, The Bug decided to have a nice, wet-sounding poop - the kind that breastfed babies are notorious for having. Loud, Tiajuana two-step type poops. I got out the little mat and laid her on the table and took off her diaper. Naturally, she decided she wasn't done and she pooped again. And again. And again. And then one more time, only this time, she added a fancy, projectile-poop finish, christening her (white - naturally) outfit, the mat, the table and my leg. Fan. Fucking. Tastic.

The Boo is standing next to me during all of this saying "Ewww. Baby pooped, mama. Pie pooped." I'm dying. The WIC counselor was laughing her head off. I was, too, but in more of an if-I-don't-laugh-I'm-going-to-cry kind of way. A whole packet of baby wipes, a two-inch stack of paper towels and half a container of Clorox wipes later and I'm on my red-faced way. *sigh*

We're going to be getting 12 gallons of milk a month. Twelve. That's a shitload of milk. Do you know if you can freeze milk? We'll never drink that much.

Did you know that you don't get any fresh fruits, vegetables or meats on WIC? You get canned carrots and canned tuna and that's it. You get cereal, a shitload of milk, eggs, cheese and peanut butter, but no meat, no fruit and no veggies. Maybe the thought process is that by providing those things, it frees up a bit of money in order for you to buy meats, fruits and veggies. I think it would be better to pay for that, though. Then you'd be sure that kids were eating it.

I hate that I'm on WIC. Really hate it. It's embarassing. It makes me feel poor. Really poor, bordering on destitute. There's something debasing about taking public assistance that makes me feel beaten down, like I need to avert my eyes from everyone when I go to the market, like the cashiers and people behind me in line are judging me because I'm on WIC. I wish there was a way to make it a bit more discreet, but you have these big checks that you have to sign in front of the cashier. At least food stamps are on a card that looks like a debit card now. Most people would never know that you were using food stamps, but WIC is painfully obvious.

So, yeah. Another body blow to my self-esteem. Just what I need.


Anonymous said...


I know what you mean, but I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of. And it's awful that they don't pay for fresh fruits and vegetables. Bloody social assistance rules, I swear they're designed to humiliate people.

I hope it takes the pressure off your budget.

George said...

Don't be hard on yourself. We used WIC when times were rough. That is what it is there for.

It would be different if you had the "attitude" that most do. For those people who think that you must be like that, Screw um! The babies come first!

Anonymous said...

I know here in our state. The people on WIC and another senior citizen program get $5.00 checks for them to use at Farm stands or Markets. They have to be spent on fresh fruits or vegetables. I have no clue how they are distrubuted or anything like that. Good luck. I understand you feeling, but glad you are getting the help.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I at least got bags of baby carrots, I would never have eaten canned. I think if you had been a month earlier, you might have gotten farmers market checks. They give ours out in July and August. I think their main goal is making sure you are getting enough protein and calories, so they give you stuff that will meet that need best.
The poop story is awful and great at the same time. I know that "if-I-don't-laugh-I'm-going-to-cry" feeling well, Katy chose to stand by the door in church picking her nose with a finger in each side recently. Everyone else thought it was pretty funny.

Angewl said...

I never knew they gave out farmers market checks. Around here I have only seen the canned items.

Julia, can you get the bag of beans, too? We were enver able to eat all of that peanut butter.

Please dont feel bad. I know it seems they try to humiliate you. I think this will help out some.

The poop story, I am so sorry!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you're feeling bad about it, but remember, that's what WIC is there for! You need it, it helps, it's all good. You're right, though, that the lack of fresh veggies and meats is odd. I wonder whether PB and canned veg are less expensive?

At any rate, just think how much you'll laugh at this and the Bug's contribution when you look back. Remember, this too shall pass. It does not reflect on the kind of person you are--except in that you're someone who's willing to swallow her pride to provide for her family. And that's something to be proud of.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can freeze milk. Thaw it in the refrig & shake it up a little.

And what George said.

Anonymous said...

12 gallons of milk? Whew! That's like me and novolog- my doctor somehow thinks I need 6 bottles for three months when I take 25 units a day.

Anyways, I digress. There's no shame in taking WIC. I actually believed it's under utilized.

Having 4 kids is expensive. Having diabetes expensese is farking expensive. Gas is farking expensive. You have a lot of expenses, and this will hopefully help things.

Anonymous said...


Don't feel bad - things are pretty bad for us too and that is one of the options I'm considering. When you are in the checkout line just remember this - most of the people waiting will not even know what you are doing, some will know and will be thinking if they should be doing the same thing (like me) and the others if asked you'd probably be surprised at the debt they have. You are taking action to ensure that your family is taken care of. Good for you!

Joke said...

Kris is right.

If you get whole milk, you can make butter too. You can even make cheeses.

You're doing the good and right thing in taking care of your family.


Anonymous said...

Kris is so right on.

Honestly, Julia - that's what WIC is there for. My mother used it for several months between jobs when we were kids. My brother and his family have used it over the past year as they work their way over an economic slump. I work with at least three professional, hard-working women (like you) who use it to make ends meet. AND it's NOT a hand out. You are simply borrowing on tax dollars you've poured into the system since you were a teenager - and dollars that you'll put back in the system when you return to work. You are using the system the way it's supposed to be used. There is NO shame in that.

I'm sorry, but I must admit, I laughed out loud about the pooping incident. Babies and their pooping make me giggle.

Andrea said...

I used to cashier at a grocery store, and I'd get WIC mothers in all the time. I just went about ringing them up. The only time I got judgy was when I'd see them buying with their own money a bunch of expensive food even my parents (a lawyer and an insurance agent) couldn't afford, like peel and eat shrimp, lobster tails, and filet mignon. You're doing what you have to do to make sure your family is eating right. As a former cashier, the only thing I thought when checking people out was to make sure what brands they had matched what their card said they were allowed. No judgment otherwise. So don't be so quick to assume people are looking at you and internally laughing at the lady with the government cheese. None of us can know what people are thinking about us without being told, and it's useless to worry about it. You just do what you can, and you move on.

And oh the explosive poops. They are fun!

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Oh, The Joys said...

Go easy on yourself. Your need right now in this moment is what WIC is there for. It's not forever, nor is it a statement about who or what you are or are not. You are a good mom, doing what needs to get done. ((((you))))

Sandra Miller said...


When I was a kid, my mother did exactly the same thing-- she had no choice-- she was home with me and my six siblings, and my dad worked in a factory-- a non-union factory.

And you know what? Getting that extra help really saved us.

Nothing to be ashamed of.

Absolutely nothing.

Kerri. said...

I'm only beginning to see how tough it can be out here, and I'm only responsible for myself.

I agree completely with what Sandra said. And you have nothing to be ashamed of. Taking care of your family is not shameful, not in the least.

Nic said...

Thank you for this post, Julia. It puts a human face on a reality that is distant -- or ignored. And, although you did have your share of embarassment, you have a GREAT story to tell in future, more sparkling days (like when the Bug starts dating!)

Estelle said...

You put into the pot when you have it, you take out of the pot when you need it.
We get WIC. We don't have a choice. Well, now we don't use it as much because he can finally eat some solid foods. But when Charlie couldn't eat, the only thing we could give him was $2/oz formula. And I mean LIQUID ounce. Jean breastfed him, but she could only make so much because her diet was so restricted and health issues in a child are nothing if not stressful! So, we got the formula. There is NO WAY we could have afforded $30/day just to SUPPLEMENT what he was already getting. And when he couldn't even get that anymore, and had to move up the level to another formula, it got even more expensive and they covered less. But still, without it, our kid would not have been able to eat what he needed. It saved his life.
Of course if I could adopt him and he could go on my insurance it would have been covered by insurance, but that a whole other story :)

Debbie said...

I'm not sure if they're doing it in all states(I'm sure they are since WIC is federally funded), they're thinking about doing away with juice and giving wic vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetable. They had a trial run in NY for a few months. I actually preferred it because I can't stand juice or the thought of the kids drinking as much as we get on WIC. We also get $24.00 a year in farmer's market coupons.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Nothing to be ashamed of. You have to take care of the babies, and to do that you do what you gotta do.

SUEB0B said...

Here's a recipe for fresh farmer cheese: http://www.recipezaar.com/11288

I love it. You can cube it and saute it a bit til it is brownish around the edges and serve it with almost anything as a protein. I like it with a mess of sauteed greens and garlic, though the kiddos may not want to eat that. I am pretty sure they will like the cheese, though. It is fun to make, like magic.