Press Contact: Brian Dittmeier, firstname.lastname@example.org
National WIC Association: “With the rising cost of food and the ongoing burden of healthcare costs, we must double down on effective measures like the WIC benefit bump that help children build nutritious diets and get a healthy start.”
Earlier today, leading appropriators announced a bipartisan omnibus agreement to fund the federal government through September 30, 2022. The agreement would extend the WIC benefit bump for the duration of the fiscal year, providing enhanced fruit and vegetable benefits to more than 4.75 million women and children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Before the WIC benefit bump was implemented in April 2021, children received only $9/month, and women received only $11/month for fruits and vegetables. Children now receive $24/month, pregnant and postpartum participants receive $43/month, and breastfeeding participants receive $47/month, reflecting 50 percent of recommended intake according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).
Brian Dittmeier, Senior Director of Public Policy at the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response:
“The WIC benefit bump is one of the most effective investments to build nutrition security for low-income families. Enhanced benefits for fruits and vegetables put a broader range of nutritious foods within reach for WIC families when children are developing lifelong taste preferences. As WIC’s individualized nutrition counseling reinforces this benefit bump, WIC families are positioned to make healthier choices that will resonate with the next generation.
“Since April 2021, more than 4.75 million women and children participating in WIC have received enhanced fruit and vegetable benefits in accordance with science-based recommendations. The WIC benefit bump has resulted in more than triple the amount of fruit and vegetable purchases, a greater variety of produce redeemed by WIC families, and increased fruit and vegetable consumption for young children. Congress wisely extended this WIC benefit bump through the end of the fiscal year, providing an estimated $583 million in enhanced benefits that will stimulate local economies by bolstering retail grocery transactions and return investment up the food supply chain to American growers and producers.
“WIC families want healthier options for their children, especially as WIC’s baseline benefit is already demonstrated to improve dietary quality and reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. With the rising cost of food and the ongoing burden of healthcare costs, we must double down on effective measures like the WIC benefit bump that help children build nutritious diets and start healthy. We applaud leading appropriators – especially Chair DeLauro, Chair Leahy, Subcommittee Chair Bishop, and Subcommittee Chair Baldwin – for their persistent and tenacious dedication to WIC’s role in growing a healthier next generation.
“This omnibus includes transformational investments, but additional steps are necessary to sustain WIC’s progress in affording every child a healthy start. USDA must act urgently to promulgate new food package regulations that codify the WIC benefit bump. This step will build on bipartisan support to provide more nutritious foods to WIC families and ensure that WIC benefits no longer depend on anomalies and stopgap measures. Congress must also provide additional waiver authorities that will stabilize the school meals programs, which provide vital nutrition support for older children as families and school districts continue to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through comprehensive, whole-of-government action, Congress and the Administration can jointly secure positive nutrition for young children as an effective and early intervention to address chronic diet-related conditions and build a healthier next generation.”