Chicago mom says food available to aid WIC recipients is 'nasty and moldy'

A Chicago mother who relies on government assistance to feed her family says the produce at the state-run food pantry, where she has to shop, is inedible.

Moldy, disintegrated produce is what mother of two Racquel Pruitt found when she visited her local WIC food pantry on the South Side of Chicago. She's been on the food assistance program for new and expectant mothers for a year.

"They give me $9-dollars a month towards, it's supposed to be fresh fruits and vegetables. And obviously it's not fresh," said Pruitt.

She found the bad produce at a WIC location run by Catholic Charities at 11255 S Michigan. Pruitt posted what she found on her Facebook page, writing: “I usually go to the WIC Food Store at 1106 W 79th street. I didn’t go on Saturday because of the bad attitudes I get and the bad food...I talked to one of the workers like I did at the 79th Street location and everyone just seems to be unbothered about this. I know it’s a free program but my children and all families should not be subjected to having to get old, molded food."

Pruitt called the state to report the issues, but says she has gotten no response. 

WIC participants receive coupons each month that can only be used at participating food pantries. FOX 32 reached out to the state and received a response, which reads in part: "IDHS (Illinois Department of Human Services) and Catholic Charities take all concerns regarding the quality of the WIC products extremely seriously... Produce is stored at the proper temperatures and produce coolers are inspected twice daily to ensure participants receive the highest quality produce. We immediately reported this incident and would ask anyone with concerns about the food at WIC centers to contact the Illinois WIC office at 217-782-2166."

After discovering the rotting food at two different locations, Pruitt says she went to a local grocery store and used what little money she had to purchase produce for her two children.

"I just don't think that nobody, any of our kids, any of us in any community should have to eat, or even go in stores that sell us stuff like that," Pruitt said.