Free government cheese? SIGN ME UP!

Call me cray-cray, but one of the things I’ve been excited about in this whole fostering process is getting approved for WIC – the government program for women, infants, and children that gives you what the wise ones in power deem to be “powerful, nutritious foods”. It’s a great program, and I’m all about getting things fo free, so when we got our very loud and very hungry sibling group of three, and two of them are under 5 (age cut-off)….well, I couldn’t take it one bit longer. I had to apply!

Here’s my experience, in case anyone is as obsessed with WIC and government beans as I am. (I’m expecting approximately one person fits that bill and will read this post)

On Wednesday at 10am, I call the central WIC office to get an appointment. I’m on hold for an entire hour, but I will NOT be discouraged, and go about my business while waiting patiently. Someone answers and I stumble for the phone to get my appointment. I’m shocked when I get an appointment for the next day at 8:45am! But then the woman on the phone tells me something horrifying. I MUST BRING THE CHILDREN IN TO THE APPOINTMENT.

I’m sorry. Bring a 21-month old and 2 1/2 year old into a government office for what is likely to be hours? Is this worth it? Still, I will not be swayed, and I furrow my brow and clench my jaw to prepare for THE WAIT.

The next morning, I drop off Z at school and take T and B to the WIC office. We check in and wait about 45 minutes until we’re called into Room 9. The kids were terrific! They sat in the double stroller and ate non WIC-sanctioned Scooby Doo cereal with red dye 40 while I watched on loop the epic WIC movie about which foods are WIC-approved and which are contraband. 45 minutes is a long time when you’re in a stifling waiting room with two toddlers, so I pretty much memorized the entire thing.

When you take your WIC checks to the grocery store, pay attention to what is allowed and what is not allowed. Ask for store assistance if you have any questions.

With your checks, you will receive beans. You may purchase 16 ounces of dried beans, or up to four cans of any type of bean. Gourmet beans are NOT ALLOWED.

Just hold on one cotton-pickin minute. What the hell is a gourmet bean? I text Steph and she tells me I must clarify with the workers and ask them to re-make the movie. I sigh and continue to memorize the movie.

When purchasing WIC juice, you may get up to 64 ounces of APPROVED juice. If you purchase Juicy Juice brand, only Apple is covered. The rest are NOT ALLOWED.

WTF? Why is WIC all sketchy about juice-blends? It’s still 100% juice – just different ones, all mixed up in the same can. I’m truly perplexed over this one, but don’t text Steph about it because I’m tired of her shenanigans and impractical demands.

Finally, we are called back into room 9, which is perfect timing, because the children have just finished eating their red dye 40 and are starting to become monsters. The first room is where we get certified. I show the worker the children’s court-orders for placement in our home. We also weigh, measure and check the children’s blood level. Apparently if they’re anemic, we get Super-WIC. I don’t know that we’ll ever find out what that means, because both of their iron-levels are fine. This vegan momma is doing a-ok. T is pretty much a demon in the room because….well, they got their fingers pricked. Who wouldn’t be. I try to tell her about future child-birth and surgeries and things that will hurt way worse than getting her finger pricked, but she has the audacity to not care.

Once we leave room #9, we head to a second waiting room before seeing the WIC nutritionist. She asks me if I have any concerns or goals I’d like to work on before our next visit.

Well….T won’t touch vegetables with a ten foot pole. But what do you do?

She whips out a laminated chart. I am not joking. I wish I’d had the prescience to snap a pic, but all I could do was stare. It was a beautiful 1980’s chart of cute little faces and animals made out of veggies. Like funny faces and caterpillar kabobs that use 10 different raw vegetables to paint a scene.

Ummm….I have five children in the house.Β  I’m pretty sure I won’t be making a rainbow face from multi-colored peppers and cherry tomatoes that T won’t eat anyway. But thanks!

Next up, we went to another waiting room before being called to window 12 where we picked up our WIC checks. Hooray!!! This was the moment we’d been waiting for. I had to sign for each check we got, and we got a lot. They gave me three months worth for T and B.

The kids had deteriorated and were throwing their shoes and screaming at me and the worker, so at that point I gathered my checks, my kids and my will-power and walked out the door. OH! But not before asking if I had to bring the children back the next time I come. I don’t. πŸ™‚

The next day, I had my daughter babysit the kids while I hauled my butt up to Publix to use the first round of checks. I only used half my checks because I’m a little unclear about what to do with 6 gallons of milk. I’ll use the second half next week.I used my trusty WIC pamphlet to help me navigate the complex world of WIC-sanctioned foods.

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Here’s a zoomed-in version of the milk section.

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When I went up to the register, I dutifully separated my WIC items from the rest of my purchase (wine, soy milk, gourmet beans) I told the cashier that I was a virgin WIC-er, and she gave me a small frown. I’ll tell you what, though. That frown turned upside down super-fast because I got an A+ in selecting the right foods! She told me I did better than most people. I was proud of my 100% accuracy rate!

I snapped a pic of my spoils below just because I am ridiculously proud. Remember – this is just half my loot for the month!!!

My loot:

* Six boxes of Cheerios (You get 36 ounces. Boxes are 12 ounces each and they were BOGO – Hollah!!!! )

* 1 pound of the proverbial government cheese

* 1 dozen (cheapest version from chicken) eggs. (Yes, they clarified that)

* 3 gallons and 1 quart whole milk.

* 2 loaves 100% whole wheat bread.

* 2 bunches of Chiquita Bananas.

* 1 gallon orange juice

and last but not least

*4 cans of NON-GOURMET beans.

Total savings this trip? $50!! It might have cost me $70 in babysitting and 3 hours of my life in order to get this, but WHATEVER! Free food!

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Can’t wait til my trip next week! I basically get all this stuff again, except I’m going to switch out and get some JJ apple and peanut butter instead of the beans. It’s ok, though, because I’m a fancy beans kind of gal. πŸ™‚

PS. On a serious note, I am super appreciate of our government programs, and gladly pay my taxes to help those less-fortunate than our own family. I had WIC for my older children about 20 years ago, and am not at all ashamed to say that food stamps and welfare helped us survive during many hard years. To all the haters that think that people on food stamps are sitting on their couches eating bon-bons – you’re wrong. I am the face of welfare and WIC. And I most certainly didn’t sit around eating bon-bons. Gourmet beans? Maybe. But you can’t judge me for that.

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Free government cheese? SIGN ME UP!

  1. Mari Corona

    Great share WIC is a wonderful program and I too used it over 18 years ago and I too feel no shame I’ve paid my taxes and what ever programs are available we should use in time of need to provide for our families and get ahead. Best of luck πŸ™‚ xo

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thanks Mari! It was bizarre going back on WIC after 20 years, but I’m so glad I did! These children are eating me out of house and home!

      Reply
  2. Melody W.

    Twins put me on the government cheese list. Sometimes we eat government ice cream and use government ingredients to make government cookies. It’s pretty horrific. And a gross misuse of the system. πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  3. Spring

    I’m still taking full advantage of our WIC benefits for for these ‘preemie’ boys of mine that are eating us out of house & home!!! First I was jealous that you get cheese, here in ga we don’t, at least we don’t? But we can have any kind of beans or juice we desire, even organic πŸ™‚ I guess it’s a fair trade, lol…

    Reply
  4. Liz

    Really interesting story! I’m not the only one who is slightly fascinated by wic! I find the whole thing interesting, particularly how they go about choosing the foods. We’re in Georgia and ours looks pretty similar to yours. We do get cheese but no organic juice. It’s a lot of food, sometimes more than we can use in a month, so I’ve started looking up wic recipes to use it up.

    For two children under five, a fully breastfeeding mom, and a breastfed infant we receive each month:
    48 quarts of milk, we get 12 lactaid and 36 goat’s milk
    3 pounds of cheese, store brand block or string only in 16oz packages, just the basic types/no imported or flavored
    4 dozen eggs, least expensive white chicken eggs only (because I was planning on picking up quail eggs, lol)
    3 jars of peanut butter, 16-18oz, any brand but no organic or flavored, can be swapped for 12 cans of beans
    4 cans of beans, breastfeeding means at least some beans are required, organic is ok, no sauce added
    5 loaves of bread, 16oz loaves only, certain brands, must be whole wheat, tortillas or brown rice are substitutes
    4 64oz bottles of juice, any juice juice, welchs, generic refrigerated oj or grapefruit, generic v8, canned pineapple
    2 48oz bottles of juice, same choices but frozen and shelf stable concentrates are included too
    30oz (5-6cans) tuna or salmon, least expensive chunk light tuna or pink salmon with or without bones and skin
    108oz cereal (6-8 boxes, more if buy one get one free), same types as yours
    31 2.5oz jars meat baby food, beech nut or gerber only, chicken, beef, ham, veal
    64 4oz jars fruit or veggie baby food, beech nut or gerber only, single variety fruit or veggie or combos only
    3 8oz boxes of infant cereal, beech nut or gerber only, rice, wheat, barley, multigrain, oat
    $22 in produce vouchers, our farmers market doubles the value to $44

    I definitely can’t complain about it.

    Reply

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