Utah serves a smaller percentage of women eligible for the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) than almost any other state, according to information presented in a recent Congressional hearing.
Utah ranked 47th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the ratio of how many people it serves in the program compared with the number eligible.That's according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which told the House Education and Labor Committee that the WIC program should be reauthorized and expanded. It said the program serves less than half of the 7.4 million people eligible because of inadequate federal funding.
In Utah, the AAP said only 41.5 percent of people eligible for the program are served. It said 91,702 are eligible, and only 38,100 participate in 1987.
The only states with lower ratios are Washington, New Mexico, Idaho and Hawaii. The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of eligible people served by WIC.
Utah WIC officials are not surprised by the low figures.
"The program is open to everyone who's eligible. We don't have waiting lists. The problem is that many people here choose not to participate because they want to do it on their own rather than go to the government for help," said Don Johnson, management services coordinator for Utah's WIC program. "There are also a lot of people who don't know WIC exists. We are trying to get the word out and we are growing."
Johnson said the state has certified 41,240 people, and the program is growing every month at the rate of 200 to 300 a month.
"I expect that we will continue to grow," Johnson said. "We have sufficient food dollars to serve 45,000 people. We have found the best advertisement is word-of-mouth. People listen to their friends."
State % of eligible served
District of Columbia 83.3
New Mexico 37.9