Jordan Baker firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, September 12, 2023 — The Food Research & Action Center calls for passage of a Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill that commits substantial funding to enable all who are eligible to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
WIC is one of the nation’s largest federal nutrition programs, serving millions of women and young children, including nearly half of all infants born in the United States. Unfortunately, efforts to undermine this program have resulted in the House and Senate producing vastly competing versions putting the health and well-being of our country’s most vulnerable people at risk.
The recently proposed House Appropriations Committee version of the annual spending bill would slash WIC and other critical federal nutrition programs that help keep hunger at bay for people across the country, a cruel and punitive legislation that would only deepen America’s hunger crisis. The Senate Appropriations Committee version is significantly better but still falls short of providing enough funding to accommodate expected caseloads.
However, with the Biden administration’s request to allocate an additional $1.4 billion in emergency funding for WIC, Congress has a chance to preserve the accessibility of this crucial program and extend its positive impact on early childhood learning and development outcomes.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress made significant investments in WIC and other federal nutrition programs. This included increasing the monthly value of the fruit and vegetable benefits for women and children consistent with the National Academy of Science recommendations. This enhanced fruit and vegetable benefit (an increase from $9 to $24 a month for children and from $11 to $43 a month for postpartum individuals and $47 for breastfeeding individuals) has improved nutrition and increased the value and impact of the WIC food package.
A combination of enhanced fruit and vegetable benefits, innovative outreach, and increased demand has fueled the rapid growth of WIC. The program now meets the nutritional needs of 6.7 million women, infants, and children across the country.
FRAC continues to call on Congress to make pandemic-era boosts to the program permanent so that more children and pregnant and postpartum people will be able to access the nutrition they need while recovering from the health and economic fallout of the pandemic, and FRAC, working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and key partners, is doing its part to ensure WIC can reach as many people as possible through the WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Project (WIC CIAO). Through WIC CIAO, we are helping WIC state and local agencies, including Indian Tribal Organizations and nonprofit entities and organizations, to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative outreach strategies to increase WIC awareness and equitable access and participation.
Still, action is needed at the Congressional level to ensure WIC can work to its best ability. We implore Congress to take up emergency funding and ultimately pass a spending bill that will guarantee all those who are eligible have access to WIC’s substantial nutrition and health benefits.
Hungry families can’t wait.
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram.