Rep. Gonzalez Urges Governor To Support Businesses, Women With Infants
Amendment passed would assist vendors and participants of the WIC program
May 21, 2008
Rep. Minnie Gonzalez (D-Hartford) hailed the passage of an amendment she authored to protect small convenience store owners against the loss of their vendors licenses for the Women with Infant Children Program (WIC) that provides assistance with baby nutrients and products.
Rep. Gonzalez said, “WIC is the cornerstone of federal and state nutrition programs and serves as the first line of defense in the battle against hunger. The program provides and important safety net to the neediest citizens.”
In order to deal with the scarcity of available vendors for baby formula, the amendment changes the current practice of not renewing Women with Infant Children (WIC) licenses to convenience stores based on the number of vendors in a given geographic area. The amendment also changes the process by which the Department of Public Health denies renewals – It puts in place a renewal process that eliminates the practice of immediate disqualification and revocation of a license, to a process that allows remediation by the business.
“I have been receiving many complaints over the last two years from small convenience store owners about unfair treatment with respect to renewing their store’s WIC (Women with Infant Children) licenses,” Rep. Gonzalez said.
Licenses have been revoked if, for example, they fell one short of the number of cans of baby formula the store is required to have. Also, many licenses have been revoked in the renewal process if some information, for example a photo-copy of the license, is accidentally left out of the application package.
“Even though the business owners have said they have a right to an appeal, they never successfully renew their licenses through that process,” Rep. Gonzalez added. “Large supermarket chains do not seem to have the same problems in renewing their licenses even though many of my constituents have given accounts of stock shortages and outdated products at these locations.”
Rep. Gonzalez continued, “What has to be taken into account is the fact that these convenience stores serve a community that often does not have the resources to travel to the larger supermarket chains. In my legislative district, 12 vendors were reduced to one. And I have had constituents that have traveled a long distance to the only store in the area only to find they did not have the product they needed.”
“The loss of a license often causes hardship for not only the business owners, but for those patrons without the means of transportation,” Rep. Gonzalez said. “I want to thank Julio Mendoza, director of the Hispanic Merchants Association; Carlos Alvarez, President of the Puerto Rican and Latino Affairs Commission; Senator John Fonfara and the leadership of the House for getting behind this important issue. I am asking the governor to please sign this measure into law in support of the businesses and the participants in the program.”
Reprinted with permission of the NorthEnd Agent's.
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