County making it harder on the poor

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Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road.
  • Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road.

Just as gas prices are soaring, El Paso County finds another way to make a poor person's life even harder.

Starting May 1, El Paso County Public Health will close two Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) centers in Colorado Springs, forcing clients to drive to the county's sprawling Citizens Service Center at 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road. Public Health is located on the second floor.

The closings affect two locations: 4360 Montebello Drive, nearly eight miles from the Citizens Service Center, and 1257 Lake Plaza Drive, more than 12 miles away.

A clinic at 97 Widefield Blvd. in Widefield will remain open.

Here's how Public Health explains it in a news release:

These closures were necessary to maintain client services after Public Health lost federal funds totaling $298,654 for the WIC program. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides vouchers for nutritious foods to supplement the diet of pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children under the age of 5 years, who both meet the income guidelines and qualify as “nutritionally at risk.” Purchases made with the redeemable vouchers put slightly more than $9 million back into the community last year.

Participants also receive nutrition and breastfeeding education, along with referrals to health services. El Paso County Public Health currently has 16,300 total WIC clients. There was an average caseload of 14,952 in 2010, and 14,954 in 2009.

As of January 2012, the Lake Plaza Drive office had seven staff members serving 3,259 clients, and the Montebello Drive office had 11 staff members serving 5,085 clients. All clients will continue to receive services with their WIC educator at the new location.

For more information about WIC, driving directions or public transit options to the Citizen Services Center available, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.

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