WIC and Nutritional Advice

28 May 2013

So, some followup. Grace finally found that Kroger had, in fact, ordered low-fat goat’s milk, but no one got back to her to report that it had come in. She had gone to the store to check on it several times, but it had not been put on the shelf. She went back several times, and one morning found someone actually stocking shelves. She asked this person, who said “Oh! You’re the one who ordered that goat’s milk? It’s been sitting in the back.” So they get credit for actually ordering what we wanted, but pretty much a zero for customer service.

Grace took home 12 quarts, out of the 22 she was covered for that month (all that wouldn’t fit in our refrigerator). And we started doing our best to figure out how to feed the kids a dozen quarts of low-fat goat’s milk. We decided that making a batch of Cream of Wheat would use up a whole quart, so we did this several times. The kids ate that up. We had hoped that goat’s milk wouldn’t set off their milk allergies, but it did — in fact, the seemed to react more than they did to cow’s milk — and so we had several sick kids, including a baby with an up-all-night ear infection. So we had to give up on the goat’s milk. They won’t cover the fortified almond or coconut milk that we normally drink.

Joshua is very small and so we took him to see a pediatric endocrinologist for evaluation. She does not seem to be concerned with the results of his blood tests and bone scan, although we are concerned, and we’ll be looking for another opinion. He has a follow-up appointment set to find out why our two-year-old is almost as tall, and weighs more, than our four-year-old. Meawhile, the nutritionist in her office got back to us with some advice on how to deal with a child who does not seem to be eating an adequate number of calories. I’m looking at a handout entitled “How to Increase Calories.” It starts out: “If your child is having eating problems, it’s important to make every bite count. Getting in adequate calories can help your child maintain weight and continue to grow well.”

It then goes on to list a number of different types of food to consider adding to your child’s diet, including butter and margarine, whipped cream, and whole milk and cream. We already do some of this — for example, we’ve been making him mashed sweet potatoes with butter and sour cream. He doesn’t seem to have the milk allergies that his siblings have, but having a lot of milk in the house is problematic because they will demand what he is drinking.

We’ll skip the margarine, to avoid soybean oil and hydrogenated fats. Sweetened whipped cream in the house leads to a feeding frenzy, but we might be able to use whipping cream unsweetened in Joshua’s food. WIC won’t cover whipped cream, butter, or whole milk of any kind. Cheese is covered, but in pretty limited quantites. We’re definitely using all they will provide and then some.

The nutritionist also recommends cream cheese, sour cream (we already use it; not covered), salad dressing and mayonnaise (not covered — but Grace makes deviled eggs for the kids pretty frequently, and tuna salad with mayo).

Next up are sweets. Honey, jam, and sugar, granola, and dried fruits. These are a little problematic for us since Joshua already has four stainless-steel crowns due to extensive tooth decay. He eats carbohydrates and especially simple carbs preferentially to anything else. But we will try to figure out more ways to use these as an ingredient. I carry around granola bars and Balance bars in the car just so if I happen to have him in the car, I can give him a bar then — instead of keeping them in the house, where the other kids would find them and eat the whole box.

Our plan for getting more calories into the kid involves the following: sour cream with meals whenever we can figure out a way to work it in. Sour cream and honey for a daily snack. Three or more desserts a week, including a jello dish made with mayonnaise one night, cookies made with nut butter such as cashew butter, chocolate chips, and garbanzo beans one night, and rice pudding (we might want to make it with almond milk so the other kids can eat it without setting off their allergies). He (but not the other kids) can have half-and-half or even heavy cream in place of milk. WIC covers none of this.

Grace has a saying about bureaucracies — they can serve average needs really well. But they are, pretty much by design, incapable of serving special needs. Joshua isn’t going to miss out on anything we think he could benefit from because of this — we will cover what he needs with our regular SNAP benefits, as much as we can, and we’ll figure out how to cover the rest. But it is troubling that they can’t accommodate food allergies and special nutritional recommendations for members of the group that the whole program is designed to help.

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