Iowa Health Department Warns of WIC Scam

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Public Health is warning that people are abusing the federal Women- Infants and Children nutrition program, known as WIC. Officials say those WIC users are getting items and then are selling them illegally online.

Thousands of low income Iowans use WIC vouchers each month to buy bread, vegetables, milk and baby formula.

But Iowa Public Health says it's been seeing ads selling WIC purchased baby formula on sites like Facebook and Craigslist.

It wasn't long ago when Taylor Fishel's two-year-old twins ate nothing but formula.

Fishel said, "I had to buy the special stuff for him so it was like 30 bucks per can. So that on top of it was just unbelievable. "

She's one of the more than $62,000 Iowans who depend on WIC vouchers to help pay for her kid's food.

It's appalling, Fishel says, to learn of other users abusing the system.

"if there's people who already have it and they're still selling it. Getting money for other things. Then we're stuck. Yeah, thanks, " said Fishel.

Dubuque's WIC Coordinator Gina Dowling says this scam really isn't new. But she believes WIC users are not unaware of the rules.

"They're aware of that from the moment they sign on to the program, that it's illegal to do that," said Dowling.

WIC's intentions are to make sure pregnant women and small children have access to healthy food, no matter their financial situation. Funded by tax-payer's dollars, the state is clear, it's illegal to re-sell that food.

Dowling said, "It is frustrating but we try to focus on how many people we are actually serving. "

Police say it could be considered theft so, if someone is caught selling WIC items, they could spend time behind bars. Still, Dowling says the overwhelming majority uses the program as they are suppose to.

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