07/22/08 — Service strain

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Service strain

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 22, 2008 1:48 PM

Making healthy food choices for her family wasn’t always easy for Tammy Croom.

Husband Howard has always been on disability and Mrs. Croom is not working, so stretching the family dollars have been a challenge — one that’s only grown more difficult with the latest economic downturn.

The couple has six children — ages 11, 8, 7 and three 6-year-olds.

Fortunately, the Wayne County Health Department has proved to be a good resource.

“I was going through the clinic for my health,” Mrs. Croom recalls. The year was 1996, shortly before the birth of her first child.

“They let me know if I needed any kind of assistance that they had it. They’re just wonderful people.”

In the years since, the program that most aided the family was WIC — Women, Infants and Children — which provides food vouchers on a quarterly basis until the child reaches school age.

Thanks to WIC, she calls herself a “renewal mom.” Now 43, she had been on drugs around the time her first baby was born. A grandmother had to assist with child care.

By the time her second child came along, though, she had gotten off drugs and was better equipped to be a parent.

“They brought me into the program with open arms. They taught me how to be a better mom,” she said.

And having the WIC program in their home was a big help. The assurance it provided that her children would have healthy meal supplements — milk, peanut butter, eggs — relieved a lot of the family’s financial pressure, she said.

She also credits the program with demonstrating the importance of good nutrition.

“WIC taught me to how to keep them healthy and how to eat,” she said. “I was a young mother and I did not know how to balance out their food. They taught me about a balanced diet.”

The family continues to face challenges, especially with both parents not working and the children now having aged out of the WIC resource. Added to that is the fact that gas prices also have risen.

“We have got eight heads and they mostly base it on (her husband’s) income,” she explained. “They’re not basing it on how much everything is running, so they give us some and the children are eating more but we’re struggling right on. So we’re in a bind either way. But God is always good.”

“We have to balance it out when they can get cereal and when they can’t,” she said. “We have to juggle around what we can have and what we can’t have.”

Her confidence, she says, comes from her faith in God.

“He always brings me around good people, and I get pointers,” she said.