• Last modified 479 days ago (April 9, 2020)


Life changing for families

Isolation, grocery shortages take toll on young families

Staff writer

Having to take four young children to the grocery store with her despite fears they might be exposed to COVID-19, not being able to get needed supplies because of shortages, and missing the presence of relatives who can’t come visit are all hard facts of life now for rural Marion County resident Jill Smith.

Smith, who asked that her real name not be used, is dealing with many changes.

“It has been a little harder,” Smith said.

A few days ago she went to a large grocery store in Salina, hoping to be able to find some of the items she’s been having trouble finding in the county.

For some of her food purchases, she uses a debit card issued by the Women, Infants, and Children program designed to boost healthy diets for pregnant women and children up to age 5. The items she can purchase with the card are specific to the program.

“I get whole milk and 1% milk,” she said.

The store had whole milk, but no 1%. Shortages at grocery stores mean she can get only some of the qualifying items. WIC does not allow substitutions.

“You just hope and pray that when you go to the store, they have what you need,” Smith said. “I can’t complain — WIC helps us out. But it’s not like the people who get food stamps. They have more options. With WIC, you have to get the one they specify.”

Going to the grocery store now is also fraught with another worry. With her husband working a full-time job and also farming, there’s no way to leave the children with their father while she shops. She worries about them being exposed to COVID-19.

Being able to get lunch and breakfast from the local school is a help, she said.

“Otherwise, we’d have to be going to the store a lot more,” Smith said.

Lynette Hiebert, breastfeeding counselor at Marion County Health Department, said she thinks pregnant women are not getting their proper prenatal care because they have to cancel appointments.

“For delivery, they are not being able to have people come in there with them,” Hiebert said. “I think in general families are feeling isolated because they’re cut off from their families, play groups, play dates, and library story times.”

Having other people around is important, and family cannot visit, Hiebert said.

Her own children are happy for grab-and-go lunches at Hillsboro.

“They get to see their teachers standing in line,” she said.

“I think it affects people in several different ways, depending on their resources and having people around,” Hiebert said.

Something else that can pose a problem for young families is having sufficient baby formula supplies at grocers, she said.

Last modified April 9, 2020