Rev. Greenaway: “Congress must keep its focus on providing children with the tools for future life success.”
This afternoon, both chambers of Congress approved the continuing resolution. The continuing resolution includes a provision to extend the American Rescue Plan Act's temporary increase of WIC's Cash Value Benefit (CVB) for vegetables and fruits purchases that was set to expire today. The continuing resolution extends the benefit increase until December 2021 and resets benefit levels at 50% of recommended intake based on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) guidance, resulting in $24/month for children, $43/month for pregnant and postpartum participants, and $47/month for breastfeeding participants. Without this action, WIC participants would have only received $9/month for children and $11/month for women.
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response:
“With over 4.7 million women and children facing a benefits cliff on September 30, Congress took the right step to provide continued access to healthy foods and extend the WIC benefit bump. The three-month extension of increased vegetable and fruit benefits makes a world of difference for WIC families. Over the summer, WIC families reported that enhanced benefits brought healthier foods into reach, blunted the impact of rising food prices, and helped parents shop for a variety of vegetables and fruit to feed their young children. With rising obesity rates for older children reported during the pandemic, the WIC benefit bump is a proven strategy to strengthen child health outcomes.
“Over the past several months, NWA led a broad coalition of medical and public health providers, researchers, advocates, farmers, retailers, and other stakeholders in support of this common-sense investment. Increasing WIC’s vegetable and fruit benefit is rooted in expert recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, consistent with longstanding advice in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Without the benefits increase, children would receive only $2.25 per week for vegetables and fruits – far too low an amount to ensure consistent access to healthy foods. The higher benefit levels also resulted in increased purchases, benefitting all elements of the food supply chain, including the retail grocers and farmers who partner with WIC to support millions of families across the country.
“WIC providers are eager to ensure that WIC families have timely access to these enhanced benefits, but Congress must keep its focus on providing children with the tools for future life success. Effective interventions like the WIC benefit bump must be sustained to build positive health outcomes, reduce or prevent chronic diet-related conditions, and ensure that children have a healthy start. We look forward to working with Congress in the weeks ahead to advance the fiscal year 2022 appropriations process and secure a long-term extension of the WIC benefit bump to support families through at least September 2022.”