Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) today introduced the Wise Investment in our Children (WIC) Act. The bill would extend the eligibility for children to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) until their 6th birthdays.
“WIC currently provides nutrition services for children only up to a child’s fifth birthday, when it is assumed that they will enroll in kindergarten and be eligible for school meals,” DeLauro said. “However many children do not enter school until well after their fifth birthday. By expanding WIC to age six we close that gap and ensure children have a strong health and nutrition foundation. No child should be placed at a nutritional disadvantage simply because of when their birthdate falls.”
“By extending the age limit of children participating in WIC by one year, we ensure they receive the nutritional services needed until they’re actually eligible for school meals,” said Sánchez. “This is common sense legislation, and further improves an already effective program…By passing this bill, we close a critical gap in support, and make certain that our families can continue to rely on the services they need.”
National WIC Association President and CEO, Rev. Douglas Greenaway, has also spoken out in strong favor of this legislation. “The nutrition gap between WIC and school shouldn’t put America’s children at nutrition, health, or learning risks because of their birth dates and local rules,” says Rev. Greenaway. “Continuing WIC nutrition services for children up to age six assures that all children are protected by WIC’s essential nutrition safety net until they enter school. The Wise Investment in our Children Act does just that.”
The legislation is supported by Witnesses to Hunger, Children’s HealthWatch and the National WIC Association and has been cosponsored by 22 U.S. Representatives, including: Linda Sánchez (D-CA); Charles B. Rangel (D-NY); Mark Pocan (D-WI); Jim McGovern (D-MA); Barbara Lee (D-CA); Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL); Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); Katherine M. Clark (D-MA); Norma Torres (D-CA); Gwen Moore (D-WI); José E. Serrano (D-NY); John Lewis (D-GA); Debbie Dingell (D-MI); John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI); Marcia Fudge (D-OH); Grace Napolitano (D-CA); Adam Schiff (D-CA); Janice Hahn (D-CA); David Cicilline (D-RI); Sam Farr (D-CA); Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ); Chellie Pingree (D-ME).
The Wise Investment in Our Children (WIC) Act will help to ensure that all at-risk children continue to be protected by WIC’s nutrition safety net until they enter school. Continuing WIC nutrition services assures a continued strong health and nutrition foundation, preparing children for school entrance and making sure they are ready to learn.For more information about the potential benefits of extending WIC to age six, please see NWA's fact sheet: Serving Children Longer on WIC Could Cut Hunger and Obesity.