The New York Times editorial, “Rethinking Help for Children” points out the
insufficiency of a thirty year-old federal program to achieve its goals. The Women,
Infants, and Children (WIC) food assistance program was established in the mid 1970s
and intended to provide financial help to approximately 8 million individuals that
includes about half of all American infants and one-quarter of children (NYT 2008).
According to the criticisms highlighted by the article, the structure of the program
provides food vouchers to low-income families, but those vouchers are usable mainly for
high-fat and high-sugar foods that contradict some of the basic dietary principles that
nutritionists have developed in the three decades since the inception of the WIC program.
Under pressure from the Institute of Medicine, the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) updated WIC regulations to improve the nutritional value to recipients, but even
those changes are insufficient, largely because budgetary concerns limit the program
budget to increases that amount to a few extra dollars each month, per person, for better
nutritional choices such as fresh fruits and vegetables (NYT 2008).
The Functionalist Reaction and Remedy:
In general, functionalists view society as an interconnected organism in which the
whole is only as healthy as the overall health of all its parts; they also consider the needs
of everyone in society as the responsibility of society to provide as a whole (Macionis
2003). Therefore, functionalist observers of the WIC situation would strongly criticize
the OMB for failing to authorize sufficient funding to achieve the changes to the program
necessary to meet its objectives.
In light of changes in nutritional philosophy since the 1970s, functionalist critics
would insist on increasing the program budget in accordance with the nutritional ...