The Craig Fahle Show

Local Businesses Say They'll Take a Hit With Loss of WIC

Monday, July 7, 2014

Photo courtesy: Flickr Creative Commons

Some local business owners say they may have to downsize or making staffing changes as they lose eligibility for a federal food assistance program. The Department of Community Health limits who can accept Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, cards by zip code.

Chris Gautz from Crain's Detroit Business reports:

Women are given a debit card that allows them to buy specific types, brands and amounts of food, rather than being given a set dollar amount. The idea is to fill gaps in nutrition rather than provide for a wider range of grocery needs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The Department of Community Health limits the number of retailers that can accept WIC by ZIP code. In urban areas, DCH allows one retailer per 175 WIC recipients.

The limit on retailers is because WIC is harder to administer than SNAP, said Stan Bien, director of the WIC program in Michigan.

Federal regulations specify the exact brands of foods and amounts of those brands retailers need to have on their shelves. Specifications are not as stringent in the SNAP program, in which recipients can purchase a wider array of grocery items.

"It's a system that's been proven and is working well," Bien said.