A Mother’s Hunger Part 4: Social and Public Policy Recommendations

May 10th, 2012 § 0 comments

Tiffany, Gwendolyn and Cheri’s stories show that the millions of low-income mothers just like them have huge barriers to overcome. But there is hope.  With strong public policy and social change, we can begin to address and reverse the long-term effects of hunger and poverty.  Below are our recommendations.

Support WIC and keep it funded for the health and nutrition and health benefits.  WIC was created in 1972 and permanently authorized in 1974 to enhance the nutritional status of low-income mothers and their children.  More than half of all U.S. infants and a quarter of all U.S. children ages one to five receive WIC benefit which accounts for a mere seven percent of U.S. Food and Nutrition Program expenditures. The program is a proven success in improving birth outcomes, diet and diet-related outcomes, among other improved outcomes translating into cost savings on health care. However there is still room for improvement such as increased support for breastfeeding, expanded nutrition education and improved coordination of medical service referrals for mothers who may be depressed, have health issues, or need domestic violence support.

Support federal nutrition programs targeting children.  In addition to WIC,  there are several nutrition assistance programs specifically designed to provide children with access to healthy food.   For mothers, these programs make it possible to afford healthy food at home, access quality child care, and ensure their children are well nourished, healthy and ready for life-long learning.  You can learn more about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Farmers Market Nutrition Program, School Meals,  Summer Food Service Program, and Child and Adult Care Feeding Program on the USDA website.

Support social policies that improve economic security while taking into account the responsibilities and challenges of motherhood.  Job security for mothers, especially single mothers is at risk when they are the primary caretaker of their children.   Policy  improvement at could include higher minimum wage, paid sick leave/dependent care, flexible work schedules, affordable child care,  paid maternity leave, and expanding the benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Support programs that provide nutrition intervention and support for low-income mothers.  After-school enrichment programs, nutrition education classes for children and parents, and other early intervention programs can provide mothers with the knowledge and social support they need to make better decisions for their families.

Reform social service programs and policy to support coordinated care.   Studies have shown that WIC, while primarily a nutrition program, has helped to screen and reference women who may need domestic violence assistance. This study calls for a national task force that includes representation from the USDA, Department of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban development, and Labor to address food insecurity among children.  By support an umbrella approach to screening low-income women for other services, we can begin to support the household instead of simply treating the symptoms.

What would you change?
What policies or reforms have we left out?  What is your vision of a well-nourished and cared for single mother household?



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