Eligible, But Not Needed

Eligible, But Not Needed

Due to personal choices to work less and give time to church, school, and community volunteer projects, our gross income for our family of five (soon six) is around $25,000. With this, we are able to save around $10,000 annually in retirement accounts (403b and 2 IRAs). We are doing great and living well on the remaining amount. We qualify for reduced school lunches and WIC (which provides free milk, fruit juices, protein foods and cereals for women with children under age five). We have never accepted any of these handouts, though a few of our friends who earn more than we do have suggested we take them. I disagree, believing it is unethical to accept help like this when it is not needed. It sure would be a nice bonus to be able to save even more money by legitimately receiving the food, but I cannot justify it. What do others think?
Wisconsin reader

Thanks for Not Abusing the System

I think you've made the right decision. You say that you've personally opted out of working more in order to use your time in a different way. Programs like WIC and reduced school lunches are intended to help people who have a hard time finding gainful employment or making ends meet. Certainly, you have shown that it is possible to support a large family on a tiny income, but not everyone has the resources with which to do that. Thanks for not abusing the nature of these programs, simply because you could.
Madison, WI

Utilize the Programs

I don't consider these programs a "handout." These programs are designed for those who cannot make ends meet. You should not disregard them simply because you know how to make your ends overlap. If I were in that position, I would utilize the programs. I would track the savings and put the money into specific savings accounts for the children's education. While you may not have a "need" for these programs, they will allow you to make sure your children have good nutrition and allow you to save (even more) for their future. Often, these programs have additional funds because people don't know to join, so don't be concerned you are taking funds from those with a greater need.

Donate Savings to Charity

Since you have such a well-developed social conscience and find that your income supports your lifestyle and enables you to save, maybe you could accept the assistance and then donate the savings to your favorite charity. You could have your children help select the charity, which would teach them the direct connection between their activities and the welfare of those less fortunate.

Leave the Money for Someone in Need

Good for you! I agree with your principles. Just because you qualify for a government program doesn't mean you need to avail yourself of it. I was laid off almost two years ago. I chose not to return to work in order to volunteer and spend more time with my family. I could have received unemployment insurance during this time. However, since we don't need the money, I would be using up taxpayer dollars needlessly. I'd rather leave that money there for someone else who truly does need it.

I applaud you for your stance and feel that if everyone else felt the same way we'd be able to help many others who need help and have more money in our national coffers!
Washington reader

Please Come to WIC!

We offer more than food. We also give nutrition education. In fact, I often teach classes on meal planning, economical shopping, etc., and your input can be valuable to others. Also, WIC is not an "entitlement" program. You have to qualify. It's not just based on income and residency. You also have to have a nutritional risk factor. Most folks get this through their diet, but some are anemic or have other medical conditions that affect their pregnancy or infancy/childhood.

Also keep in mind that you pay taxes for this program and it works! For every dollar spent on WIC, $3 are saved in Medicaid cost to treat problems that could have been avoided had the person had enough to eat!
CJWIC Nutritionist

Reconsider Your Stand

I worked for CA WIC for five years. You pay taxes, which fund the program. For every $1 spent on the WIC program, there is a savings of over $4 in medical costs. Tests show that due to the nutritious foods and nutrition education through registered dietitians, WIC babies are born at healthier birth weights with less incidents of infant mortality. WIC is a big promoter and supporter of breast feeding.

The idea that working, low-income people should not use WIC came up frequently in CA. I worked hard to open five additional WIC clinics on military installations for service members and their dependents. WIC is not a welfare program. It is a nutrition program that saves taxpayer dollars.

Your Decision is Supported!

I have worked with certain organizations like WIC in the past. It is heartbreaking to me to hear of someone who just had an unexpected emergency (child had to go into the hospital) or loss (husband died) and they can't get assistance because there isn't any funds left. There is a lot of abuse in the system. I've seen college students in expensive clothes using food stamps to buy steaks the same week I hear how the charities are running out of money and won't be able to give out as much food and clothes to the truly needy.

You mentioned that you work less so you can support your community. Seems counter indicated to take what you don't need from your community in order to save more money. If you want the extra money, I suggest working more, taking on another job.

Truthfully, your letter to the DS sounds like you already made up your mind. If it's support in your decision for which you are looking, you have mine! I think it's wonderful that you are able to save so much of your income with such a large family.
LSN in Baton Rouge, LA

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