Coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables went to 701 Columbiana County WIC households last year.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
LISBON -- A cutback in state matching funds will deprive Women, Infants and Children program participants of an opportunity for a balanced diet, a local WIC program manager has said.
"They won't have access to the nutrients that they can get from fresh fruits and vegetables," Nancy Dailey, Columbiana County WIC program manager, said Tuesday.
She was referring to a state budget-cutting decision this year that removes $99,000 in state matching money that would leverage $330,000 in federal funds for the program, known as Farmer's Market, to continue.
About the program: Farmer's Market provided $18 in coupons redeemable during the summer at participating farm markets for Ohio-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to 26,910 people in 32 counties.
"It was an excellent program. The clients in Columbiana County really participated," Dailey said, adding that 701 Columbiana County WIC households received the coupons last year.
Although she did not have the redemption rate in Columbiana County for last year, she said it was about 73 percent at six participating local farmer's markets in the two previous years -- third highest in the state.
Not involved: The WIC programs in Trumbull and Mahoning counties have not participated in Farmer's Market. Kim Beckley, Trumbull County WIC director, said her county hasn't qualified for the program, which targets more rural counties with established farm markets.
The rest of the WIC program, which is fully federally funded, will continue in Ohio regardless of what happens to Farmers Market, Dailey said.
WIC is a national program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides supplemental foods and nutrition and breastfeeding education to low- and moderate-income women, who are pregnant or have children under age 5.
Every WIC client in Ohio receives coupons redeemable in grocery stores for such things as infant formula, milk, cheese, juice, cereal, peanut butter, dried beans and eggs.
The USDA Web site says one out of four new mothers participates in WIC, which serves 45 percent of all infants born in the United States.