There’s something almost unimaginable about undernourished infants in a state as wealthy as New Jersey. Unfortunately, it’s all too real. Just 67% of eligible New Jersey infants benefit from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), compared to 77% nationally. This program provides critical nutrition support to pregnant women, infants and toddlers.
New Jersey also lags behind when it comes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), reaching only 57% of young children, compared to 66% nationally.
What makes this all the more troubling is that the money is available.
“There are federal dollars available to feed our youngest children, and we are not taking advantage of those funds,” said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
Adele LaTourette, director of Hunger Free New Jersey, concurred. “No child should face hunger, especially when federal dollars are available to feed these children.’’ She added, “By maximizing participation in federal nutrition programs, we can greatly reduce childhood hunger in New Jersey, improving child health and ultimately academic success.’’