‘It was just very last minute;’ Questions raised after suspension of WIC program at Gem City Market

DAYTON — A state program designed to help mothers and children with nutritional needs is no longer accepted at the Gem City Market, sending families designed to be helped by the market to other stores.

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About two weeks ago, recipients of the Ohio Women, Infants, and Children Program were notified that Gem City Market was no longer able to accept the program. The text message simply stated the market wasn’t accepting the program and recipients were encouraged to go to other stores.

“It was just very last minute these are things I think you know about, there are transparency issues,” Sandra Bowden, a community activist told News Center 7′s Mike Campbell Thursday.

Bowden, and fellow poverty activist Ciara Owens said it doesn’t matter who is at fault for the program no longer being accepted, but the customers and recipients of the program will be the ones hurt most by the issues.

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“What we want is a voice for them, if this is a third party merchant issue, if this is a WIC issue, then they need a voice,” Owens said.

The WIC program provides education and financial support to pregnant women and mothers with children up to 5-years-old to help give kids “a healthy start in life by improving poor or inadequate diets,” the state websites states.

“WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding education and support; supplemental, highly nutritious foods such as cereal, eggs, milk, whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables, and iron-fortified infant formula; and referral to prenatal and pediatric health care and other maternal and child health and human service programs.”

News Center 7 reached out to both the Ohio Department of Health and a community programs manager at the Gem City Market for comment and explanation, however phone calls and emails have not been returned.

The program serves around 55,000 infants, 38,000 women, and around 70,000 children and is still accepted at around 30 retailers in Montgomery County. However, each would require a mode of transportation to get to and are over three miles away from the Gem City Market.