WIC Funding Must Be Increased and Fully Funded in the Final FY 2024 Agriculture Spending Bill
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is facing a dire threat. Congress recently passed a continuing resolution (CR), H.R. 6363, that averted a government shutdown, but failed to include any additional funding for WIC. This latest CR continues the authority for states to spend their funds faster to cover higher participation rates. Fortunately, this means that states should be able to continue serving every eligible family who seeks benefits, at least for now. The spending bill employs a “laddered” approach authored by House Speaker Johnson (R-LA), that establishes two expiration dates for different funding bills – the agriculture spending bill (which includes WIC) falls under the shorter deadline of Jan. 19.
Top Line Ask: Congress has failed so far to provide the funding WIC needs for FY 2024 to protect participation and benefits once the current CR expires. Without the full funding needed above the levels in the pending House and Senate bills, states will likely be forced to turn at least 600,000 eligible low-income postpartum women and young children away from WIC, undermining their health. Congress must act decisively to provide full funding for WIC in the January legislation to fund agriculture and nutrition programs in FY 2024.
Take action now to keep our nation’s pregnant and postpartum women with low incomes and their infants, and young children well-nourished and fed.
- Use the FRAC Action Network to send an email message directly to your Members of Congress to fully fund WIC in the final FY 2024 appropriations package.
- Review FRAC’s WIC factsheet for more on the many benefits of WIC and the current funding crisis.
Background: As a result of increased program participation and the rising cost of food, annual funding bills proposed in both the House and Senate fail to provide sufficient funding to serve WIC’s projected number of participants and provide them with the full benefit. If Congress fails to close this funding shortfall for WIC, it will break an over 25-year-old bipartisan commitment to fully fund WIC and ensure that eligible low-income women and young children who apply for WIC can participate and benefit from the program’s valuable nutrition and health benefits.
House and Senate negotiations on the final agriculture funding bill for FY 2024 could start in the next few weeks, so now is the critical window of opportunity to ensure policymakers will fully fund WIC to protect participation and benefits for millions of new mothers with low incomes and their young children. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that if funding remains at levels in the pending House or Senate bill, states would have to turn away roughly 600,000 people. But that estimate assumed the cuts would start in October. The later they start the deeper they will have to be.
Countdown to November 17th to Avoid a Possible Government Shutdown
Congress has voted to avert a government shutdown — passing a so-called “clean” Continuing Resolution (CR) that will keep the government funded through November 17.
The bill includes funding and authority for USDA to spend Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) funds at the rate necessary to maintain heightened levels of participation; however, the bill does not include the $1.4 billion in additional WIC funds requested by the White House.
Take action now to keep our nation’s pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and young children well-nourished and fed. In the latest spending deal, WIC is authorized to spend more money to accommodate rising food prices and caseloads; however, Congress must provide additional funds to avoid waiting lists and an interruption in benefits. Reference this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities state chart to learn how gaps remain in the event Congress cannot fully fund WIC. Use the FRAC Action Network to send a populated email message directly to your Members of Congress about WIC funding today.
House lawmakers failed to pass FY 2024 spending bills, including the Agriculture-FDA spending bill. See the roll call vote on H.R. 4368, the draconian Agriculture appropriations bill, and also House Appropriations Ranking Member Rep. DeLauro’s (D-CT) statement on the House’s rejection.
Reference Coalition on Human Needs’ FY 24 Budget Resource Library for more.
On the Road to the Farm Bill
With the vacant House Speakership, the timing of the Farm Bill remains uncertain.
While the end of the year remains a hard deadline for many titles to be reauthorized, there was speculation that the bill would be delayed until early next year, after the passage of the FY 2024 appropriations package. Advocates must continue to protect and strengthen SNAP as Congress resumes work on the Farm Bill.
Go to the FRAC Action Network to contact your Members of Congress and to urge them to support and cosponsor FRAC’s Farm Bill priority legislation quickly and easily. Use FRAC’s Road to the Farm Bill and Bills We’re Supporting page for additional resources to advocate for families struggling against hunger.
Action Needed: Urge Your Members of Congress to Cosponsor SNAP Priority Legislation in Upcoming Farm Bill
Join advocates from across the country in urging Members of Congress to support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by cosponsoring anti-hunger priority legislation to be considered in the upcoming Farm Bill.
Action needed: Urge Congress to protect and strengthen SNAP in the upcoming Farm Bill by supporting and cosponsoring the following legislation:
- The Improving Access to Nutrition Act (H.R. 1510/S. 2435) would end harsh and arbitrary time limits on SNAP benefits for certain individuals and allow them to access the food, nutrition, and overall health benefits provided by the program. Bill highlights, House and Senate sponsors.
- The Closing the Meal Gap Act (H.R. 3037/S. 1336) would base SNAP benefit allotments on the more adequate Low-Cost Food Plan, boost SNAP benefits for families with children forced to choose between food and shelter, increase benefits for older adults forced to choose between food and medicine, raise the SNAP minimum monthly benefit, and improve equitable access by extending SNAP to Puerto Rico (replacing the current block-granted Nutrition Assistance Program). Bill highlights, House and Senate cosponsors.
- The Enhance Access to SNAP Act (EATS) (H.R. 3183/S. 1488) would eliminate the barriers that college students face when accessing SNAP. Bill highlights, House and Senate cosponsors.
- The Hot Foods Act (H.R. 3519/S. 2258) would end the prohibition on use of SNAP benefits to purchase hot prepared foods from food retailers. Bill highlights, House and Senate cosponsors.
- The Lift the Bar Act (H.R. 4170/S. 2038) would eliminate the five-year bar (waiting period) for legal permanent immigrants to access SNAP and other federal programs. Bill highlights, House and Senate cosponsors.
- The Restore Act (H.R. 3479/S. 1753) would repeal the lifetime federal ban on individuals with felony drug convictions from receiving SNAP. Bill highlights, House and Senate cosponsors.
For more information on engaging your Members of Congress, contact Vijay Das, email@example.com, or Tim Klipp-Lockhart, firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on SNAP, contact Gina Plata-Nino, email@example.com.
Recess Alert: Build Support for SNAP Farm Bill Priorities – Engage with Your Members of Congress at Home
Members of Congress will be home for five weeks this August (congressional schedule here). The recently formed House Democratic Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition has been meeting with groups (see FRAC’s statement) and discussing Farm Bill priorities. As recommendations and priorities are being analyzed and deliberated, it is important to weigh in with your Members of Congress and urge them to support legislation that strengthens and protects the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Action on House and Senate farm bills is expected to heat up in the Agriculture Committees when Congress returns in September.
Ways to Engage with Your Members
1. New Opportunities and Resources
- The House Democratic Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition is soliciting written input on your Farm Bill priorities. We have provided a customizable email template to use in your advocacy.
- Share FRAC’s newly revised Farm Bill Priorities — including newly assigned bill numbers — and urge them to cosponsor legislation (below).
2. Schedule meetings now with your Senators and Representatives by contacting their district and/or state staff. Check out these resources and these tips to create a meaningful visit and to press them on priority legislation.
3. Turn that meeting into a site visit. Best to have the “home court advantage.” Check out FRAC’s “Guide to Site Visit Options.”
4. Attend a Farm Bill listening session and share FRAC’s priorities.
On Saturday, July 29 from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. ET, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture and Horticulture, and Congressman Glenn Thompson (PA-15) Chair, House Agriculture Committee, will host a Farm Bill listening session in Connecticut. We encourage advocates in the Northeast region to attend and share your top Farm Bill priorities. RSVP is required by Monday, July 24 by calling 860-223-8412. Farm Bill priorities should be submitted in advance by using the following link: https://tinyurl.com/cr7uzhrm. FRAC’s Road to the Farm Bill webpage outlines our main priorities and resources for the farm bill.
Looking ahead, the Committee is hosting a Listening Session in Freeport, Maine on Monday, July 31. If you are interested in attending and offering comments, click here to register ahead of time. The listening session is open to the public, and the committee will do their best to accommodate all speaking requests.
5. Use FRAC’s Social Media Toolkit to connect with Members regarding priority legislation (below).
- H.R. 1510/S. 2435 — Improving Access to Nutrition Act, Reps. Lee (D-CA) and Adams (D-NC), and Sen. Welch (D-VT) and Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY): Ends SNAP’s arbitrary three-month time limit to ensure that all eligible people have access to nutrition assistance and stay healthy. Time limits have increased from 18–49 to 18–55 in the recent Debt Ceiling bill, and it is also more difficult for states to use their waivers. Find out if your Representative or Senator has not yet cosponsored: H.R. 1510 Factsheet, House and Senate Cosponsors. If not, use this link to email your Members directly. Factsheet.
Additional Legislation to Strengthen SNAP
- H.R. 3037/S. 1336 — Closing the Meal Gap Act, Rep. Adams (D-NC) and Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY): Boosts SNAP benefit allotments by utilizing the more adequate Low-Cost Food Plan; authorizes the standard medical deduction for seniors and disabled individuals; eliminates the cap on the Excess Shelter Deduction; eliminates time limits; and expands SNAP benefits for Puerto Rico. House and Senate Cosponsors. Factsheet.
- H.R. 3183/S. 1488 — EATS Act of 2023, Rep. Gomez (D-CA) and Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY): Eliminates the barriers that college students with low incomes face when accessing SNAP. House and Senate Cosponsors. Factsheet. Use the FRAC Action Network to urge your Members of Congress to support this critical legislation.
- H.R. 3519/S. 2258 — The Hot Foods Act (formerly the SNAP Plus Act), Rep. Meng (D-NY): Ends the prohibition on use of SNAP benefits to purchase hot prepared foods from food retailers. House and Senate Cosponsors.
- H.R. 3479/S. 1753 — The Restore Act, Reps. Cohen (D-TN) and Rutherford (R-FL), and Sens. Warnock (D-GA) and Booker (D-NJ): Repeals the lifetime federal ban on individuals with felony drug convictions from receiving SNAP. H.R. 3479/S. 1753. Factsheet; House and Senate Cosponsors.
- H.R. 4170/S. 2038 Lift the Bar Act, Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) and Sen. Hirono (D-HI): Eliminates the five-year bar (waiting period) for legal permanent immigrants to access SNAP and other federal programs. Factsheet. House and Senate Cosponsors.
If you have questions about engaging with your Members of Congress, please contact Vijay Das, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Timothy Klipp-Lockhart, email@example.com, and for questions on SNAP, contact Gina Plata-Nino, firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRAC Statement for the House Democratic Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition in the 21st Century
Read FRAC’s statement to the House Democratic Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition in the 21st Century for 2023 Farm Bill recommendations to improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and systematically tackle hunger in the United States. Delivered at the Task Force’s 2023 Farm Bill Roundtable on July 13, 2023.
2023 Farm Bill Leave Behind: Congress Must Protect and Strengthen SNAP, TEFAP, and Other Anti-Hunger Programs
SNAP is the cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition and food security safety net, helping to put food on the table for 42 million participants with low incomes each month. Congress should protect SNAP’s structure and funding, and strengthen SNAP. Use this leave behind to inform your Members of Congress about the critical importance of SNAP, TEFAP, and other anti-hunger programs.
FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act (‘Omnibus’) Legislative Summary
On December 23, Congress passed the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2023. The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies funding bill, one of 12 subcommittee bills contained in the omnibus spending package, provides $25.5 billion — an increase of $737 million, 3 percent above fiscal year (FY) 2022 — to fund U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. The committee highlights can be found here and a division-by-division summary of the bill is here.
It is important to note that one offset (funding mechanism) for certain provisions in the legislation was a premature cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments (EAs). This cut will hasten the hunger cliff for millions of people with low incomes as soon as March 2023 (as opposed to the end of the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency declaration). For more on the SNAP EAs cuts, go to Food Research & Action Center’s statement.
Congress Passes Bipartisan, Bicameral Keep Kids Fed Act
On Friday, June 24, 2022, Congress passed the Keep Kids Fed Act (S. 2089), a bipartisan and bicameral bill to help mitigate the impact of the loss of the child nutrition waivers due to expire next Thursday, June 30, 2022. This bill is an important first step that would increase reimbursements to schools and child care centers, support access to summer meals, and streamline access to healthy meals for children in family child care. Learn more in this blog post.
Budget Reconciliation 101
Curious about Budget Reconciliation? Unsure about the process or special rules to look out for? Explore this three-page report that explains what you need to know.
Sign Up for the FRAC Action Network!
Urge your Representatives to support and strengthen the Federal Nutrition Programs. Learn about the latest opportunities for action by signing up for the FRAC Action Network. Hungry people can’t wait.
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As 2023 comes to a close, it is of paramount importance that any tax package includes an expanded and inclusive Child Tax Credit (CTC) that centers on including the 19 million children who are currently left out of the full credit or any credit at all. Call on Congress to Expand the CTC in Any Tax Package.
In recognition of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in November, this blog lifts up opportunities to take action to support millions of families who are experiencing food insecurity and housing instability.
Across the nation, tens of millions of people are struggling to keep up with skyrocketing rents, stagnant incomes, and the end of COVID-19 pandemic-relief supports, which have resulted in growing food insecurity and housing instability. The “rent eats first” and “heat or eat” are phrases anti-hunger stakeholders hear all too often.