On Tuesday Rep. Virginia Foxx introduced an amendment to an agriculture spending bill which would have cut out all funding for WIC’s breastfeeding assistance program, a total cost of $82.5 million, according to Huffington Post. The amendment was defeated on Wednesday, but the spending bill which will cut over $600 million from the WIC program passed on Thursday, the Washington Post reports.
Rep. Foxx is taking a lot of heat for her statements. During debates on Wednesday she said, “All this money is being spent on salaries, benefits and cell phones for a program the federal government has no business doing.”
The peer counseling program helps new moms to learn how to breastfeed and feel more comfortable with breastfeeding. WIC’s CEO Douglas Greenway told Huffington Post, “Now we’ve got infant formula that they promote, advertise, and give away in hospitals, so we’ve had to use peer counselors to help moms feel comfortable and appreciate that they can breast-feed too. When they do succeed, they discover how amazing it is to be nursing a healthier child and providing the best food possible.”
Foxx’s staff’s advice for low-income breastfeeding moms according to Douglas was simply that “women have been doing this for millions of years and shouldn’t need any help.”
One thing I tried to find out and haven’t done so successfully was where the WIC cuts are going to be made. This is what I have been able to find out though. The WIC program, according to its most recent report supports 9.5 million women, children, and infants. Twenty-five percent of the 9 and a half million enrolled in WIC are women. Of this 25 percent (approximately 2 million women), only 7 percent breastfeed their infants. If I am doing my math correctly, this means that about 160,000 plus women are receiving $82 million dollars for breastfeeding assistance and peer counseling.
The peer counseling program has been effective. The percentage of breastfeeding moms in the WIC program has nearly doubled since 1992. Moms attending their support groups, according to the report on Huffington Post, are twice as likely to plan on breastfeeding.
When I was scouring the web to see what women had to say about this amendment, of course, I found almost every post out there was slamming mean old Virginia Foxx. I don’t think Rep. Foxx proposed this amendment because she doesn’t want women to breastfeed; although, I admit I don’t know what her personal opinions about breastfeeding are. The government spends a lot of money on various programs and its her job, along with the rest of our elected officials, to make sure that they spend our tax payer money wisely.
The amendment failed, but I believe her intentions were to cut unnecessary spending. The program, while beneficial, is something that probably could be cut. There are plenty of resources out there for moms who want to breastfeed that are completely free. The LaLeche League is a well known support group for breastfeeding moms. You can attend their meetings for free. Why not direct WIC moms to their local LLL meetings instead of spending so much money to offer support and education that is already out there for free?
The proposed amendment to cut this program didn’t pass, but should it have? I want to be delicate with my post because I have been on WIC myself. I know how many moms and babies depend on the WIC program. What I question is not the effort on trying to educate and support our moms with breastfeeding, but whether or not we are doing it in a cost effective way. I think both can be done.
What do you think?