Feds reject extending benefits to lead-poisoned Flint children older than 5

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By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

The federal government has rejected a request to expand WIC benefits for Flint children between the ages of 5 and 10, despite ongoing health problems stemming from the water crisis.

The Michigan Department of Human Services requested the expansion of nutrition funding to help children who have been poisoned by dangerous levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture notified the state Friday that it could not extend the benefits to children above the age of 5 because federal law limits the resources for children 5 years old or younger.

“Any changes to WIC eligibility requirements would require Congressional action,” wrote Tim English, regional administrator for the Department of Agriculture.

WIC provides funding for food, nutrition education and health care referrals for parents of children up to five years old.

Embattled Gov. Rick Snyder seized the opportunity to blame the federal government for failing to extend the funding, despite federal law that prohibits the extension without Congressional action. It raises questions about whether Snyder is trying to deflect blame for ignoring the crisis for 18 months by stirring up a controversy on the federal level.

Gov. Snyder lied: Flint water switch was not about saving money, records show

“I have strongly and continually stated that it is essential for all levels of government to work together to help Flint recover from this crisis, as it was all levels of government that failed Flint,” Snyder said in a news release today. “While I understand WIC funding does not normally cover children over the age of 5, the improved health and developmental growth that will come from better nutrition for these kids necessitates a waiver of this rule.”

Snyder added: “I strongly urge the federal government to reconsider this request and provide additional support for children ages 5 to 10. We must draw on all resources possible and work cooperatively to meet the needs of the residents of Flint, both immediate and long-term.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • banmar

    I think they’re waiting to get some of the blood tests back from the kids to see exactly how much lead Flint’s kids have ingested before they make a decision about nutritional support. There’s a lot of different ages of children involved and WIC is pretty specific about what can be purchased with WIC checks. A six-year-old is not going to need powdered formula and baby food in a jar. What a six-year-old would need would usually be covered by food stamps, but, having gone shopping when Bridge/SNAP cards are funded for the month both as a shopper and a Walmart manager, that kid might not get the food needed to mitigate the lead. Instead, they could end up with Pepsi and frozen Banquet kid dinners and microwaveable pizza.

    What the feds might have to do is expand the WIC program to cover older children and issue their WIC checks for the food they need, just like they do for infants. That way, there would be less abuse of Bridge/SNAP funds and the kids in all age groups would actually get the nutrition they need. The feds would need to not only work out what food each age group needs but also program their system to handle the extra older children to be able to cut and mail their WIC checks.

  • Donald E. Hodge

    I was wondering when Snyder was going to start blaming uncle Sam for the mess he alone created. Is this not another fine Republican assistance program for the wonderful people of Flint. My God, What an asshole. Do everyone a favor and hang yourself in the basement.

  • Harry Palmer

    “Any changes to WIC eligibility requirements would require Congressional action,…”
    So these kids have to rely on Ryan and McConnell to do what’s right?
    Sorry kids, you’ve been screwed again…

  • bebow

    Snyder can dig in the state’s pocket for the extra milk, cheese, and eggs.

  • Trexinmichigan

    Funny how he creates the problem and blames the feds. His chicken is cooked. Keep the heat on Steve,hopefully ALL the cockroaches will die.