Maine in the summer can be paradise. Amid great weather and summery-themed festivals, it may be easy to forget that some Mainers are struggling to provide adequately for their families.
Yet the harsh reality is that over 180,000 Mainers live in poverty—that’s 14 percent of the state’s population! What’s more, Maine’s child poverty rate is over 17 percent.
In the face of such bleak statistics, it is good to know that there are programs like the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to look after the health of some of the most vulnerable populations in Maine.
WIC provides healthy food, nutrition education, and healthcare referrals to low-income women, infants, and children under 5 years old. 53 percent of all infants born in this country receive assistance from WIC.
In Maine, approximately 4,900 women and 5,400 infants received assistance from WIC in 2014. In addition, WIC serves more than 12,400 Maine children.
WIC helps safeguard the health of Maine’s underserved families. Studies have shown that WIC assistance to pregnant women reduces fetal deaths and infant mortality. WIC also improves children’s diets and increases their likelihood of having a regular healthcare provider.
As social safety-net programs come under fire in our country’s Congress, I call upon our Senators Collins and King as well as Representatives Pingree and Poliquin to stand up for Maine’s low-income children and families. When the nutrition program expires in September, I truly hope Maine’s elected representatives will fight to increase funding for WIC in order to help protect the food security of families across the country.
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