Augusta Chronicle (Georgia), July 23, 2008: Food help for needy mothers increases

Posted on

By Sarita Chourey | Morris News Service

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

COLUMBIA — Food assistance to needy mothers has increased 15 percent statewide since 2006 after three years of nearly flat levels.

State officials say rising population in certain parts of the state is partly the cause of the increase in WIC services. But they also point to high gas prices and the ripple effect those have on all commodities, especially food.

“People with fewer resources are going to be hit the hardest,” said DeAnna Messias, an associate professor of women’s and gender studies and nursing at the University of South Carolina.

“The cost of food has gone up. The cost of transportation and housing, things like that,” she said. “In any time like this it’s not surprising that those with fewer material resources would be looking for more services.”

The federal government estimates state demand and allocates funding for WIC, which stands for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Pregnant women or those who have just given birth may take advantage of supplemental food vouchers, nutrition education, and referrals to health and other social services, provided they meet income eligibility standards. A woman who participates in the federal Food Stamp Program, Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families typically qualifies.

“Our population is also growing,” said Nick Davidson, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control region covering Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.

He said the population growth is not as fast as the increase in WIC services.

Ms. Messias said the summer months are typically the most difficult for poor mothers struggling to feed themselves and their children.

With school out until fall, older children who received free or reduced-cost lunches at school through the federal program must rely on other sources of food.

Reach Sarita Chourey at (803) 727-4257 or

« Back to News