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USDA Ramps up Food Assistance for Flint

Foods rich in calcium, iron and vitamin Cc are shown to mitigate the impacts of lead. (Pixabay)
Foods rich in calcium, iron and vitamin Cc are shown to mitigate the impacts of lead. (Pixabay)
June 16, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is ramping up its relief efforts for those affected by the Flint water crisis.

On Wednesday, the agency announced that it will provide a 14-pound food package to more than 17,000 low-income residents of the city.

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon explains that poverty in the area, combined with the adverse impacts of lead in the water, make it critical to ensure that families have access to nutritious foods.

"There are foods rich in calcium, iron and vitamin C that in particular have been researched to show they can help mitigate the impact of lead, to limit the absorption of it, to help excrete it as well," he points out.

The boxes will be available each month for four months starting in mid-September, when Concannon says Michigan's initial program to provide food boxes to families will have exhausted its financial resources.

USDA has been on the ground in Flint since the beginning of the water crisis, Concannon notes, and actively involved with schools and local hunger-relief agencies.

He says he's impressed by the tremendous cooperation he's seen in the local community.

"I'm struck by the fact that Flint has pulled together and local organizations are really actively working together, and that to me is one of the strongest signs we see," he states.

The agency's other efforts to help Flint residents include authorized blood lead screening tests for WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) participants, expanded Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children and additional funding for schools to buy fruits and vegetables.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI