National WIC Association Rejects OMB Reorganization Proposal
Rev. Greenaway: “OMB’s attempt to lump public assistance programs together in one department will serve only to make these programs a target.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Natalie Mulloy
WASHINGTON – On June 21, 2018, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a proposal to reform and reorganize federal agencies. One of OMB’s proposals is to move the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) non-commodity nutrition assistance programs – including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – into a renamed Department of Health and Public Welfare.
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response:
“The National WIC Association strongly opposes the White House’s proposed reorganization of federal agencies, including plans to lump public assistance programs together in a so-called Department of Health and Public Welfare. This ill-advised proposal – assembled without input from relevant stakeholders – serves only to disrupt program administration and stigmatize people who seek nutrition and public health assistance.
“Previous administrations used the term ‘welfare’ to demean and smear individuals in need of nutrition support, often in a racially coded manner. This deplorable practice spreads false narratives and impugns the character of hardworking Americans who are simply struggling to make ends meet. OMB’s attempt to lump public assistance programs together in one department will serve only to make these programs a target for policymakers eager to slash domestic spending.
“WIC’s current placement within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service reflects the program’s nutrition mission, which serves needs of at-risk mothers, babies, and young children. Removing WIC from this niche in the federal government would disrupt the WIC’s efficient delivery of services to families, undermine WIC’s proven ability to improve birth and pregnancy outcomes, and diminish the program’s nutrition focus.
“The proposal also calls for a Council on Public Assistance that would coordinate reforms to public assistance programs. Alarmingly, the Council on Public Assistance would be specifically tasked with designing uniform work requirements for all public assistance programs. Once again, the impulse of policymakers toward work requirements is driven by a false and coded pretense that low-income individuals are not working, assuming a character flaw that does not exist. Work requirements fail to understand the realities of poor people’s lives, serving as inflexible barriers to much-needed nutrition and public health assistance. Work requirements don’t work in any context, but make absolutely no sense with respect to WIC.
“After repeated efforts to cut domestic spending, impose burdensome work requirements, shrink programmatic eligibility, and push participants off of federal programs, this reorganization proposal is simply the latest salvo in a much larger attack on the social safety nets and federal programs that combat poverty. We look to Congress to firmly reject these proposals.”
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