A government nutrition program for pregnant mothers and small children has not kept pace with technology and U.S. poverty experts say its paper voucher system is driving low-income women away from the program when they need it most.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, has seen a sharp drop in participation since 2010, unlike food stamps and other anti-poverty programs that ballooned during the 2007-9 recession and the economic recovery that followed, government figures show.
“WIC providers are tearing their hair, beating their chests, ‘what are they doing wrong?’” said Laurie True, California WIC Association director.
Poverty experts say the shrinking demand does not reflect less need. They are pushing for faster changes to an outdated, cumbersome distribution process they say stigmatizes recipients.