WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congress passed an omnibus spending package that included $6 billion in funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), including an extension of enhanced fruit and vegetable benefits through the end of the fiscal year. On Thursday, the Senate voted to add the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act to the final package.
The following statement is attributed to Dr. Jamila Taylor, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA):
“The inclusion of PWFA and the PUMP Act is a momentous win for women and families. This legislation will protect millions of parents from workplace discrimination and provide them with reasonable accommodations for their health, the health of their pregnancy, and the health of their babies. WIC providers see firsthand the intricate ties between workplace support and health. For years, NWA and our members have partnered with a broad community of advocates to secure this common-sense legislation. No worker should have to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy, and the PWFA will improve maternal health and reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes. And while this legislation is a huge win for maternal and infant health by ensuring working moms have the protections they need and deserve, it is disappointing that Congress didn’t go further to address this country’s vast racial disparities in maternal health by including key investments from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus.
“We are heartened by the continued bipartisan support for child health programs. Congress sustained WIC’s increase in fruit and vegetable benefits, which impacts almost 5 million children and women monthly. This enhancement helps families eat healthier while stretching their grocery money. We strongly endorse USDA’s recent proposals to make this benefit increase permanent. We are also encouraged by the permanent Summer EBT, a program that feeds more than 9 million school-age children.“While this omnibus covers important public health initiatives, it is not nearly enough. We are deeply discouraged by the absence of notable child nutrition reauthorization provisions, specifically WIC’s ability to provide telehealth services. It's imperative that the women and children who qualify for WIC have easy access to its nutrition and health services, and removing service options shows a disconnect between Congress and the needs of everyday Americans.
“This bill also demonstrates a missed opportunity and lack of preparation and foresight for the early dissolution of SNAP and Medicaid accommodations, which will leave millions of families vulnerable. With the rising costs of food, health care, and other necessities, Congress should be providing families with a safety net – not removing protections.
“Congress must do more to pass equitable solutions that address our nation’s food insecurity and nutrition deficits. WIC’s effective health and nutrition services are part of the solution and play a critical role in building a healthier future for families. We urge the incoming Congress to prioritize and invest in a full spectrum of policies that provide families with the tools and resources they need to thrive – including a more modern WIC and comprehensive programming to uplift under-resourced communities.”
Name: Tim Ward
The National WIC Association (NWA) is the nonprofit membership organization for State and local providers of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). NWA is the go-to voice of and for WIC staff at more than 12,000 WIC locations across the country who work to support more than 6.2 million mothers and young children. For over three decades, NWA has worked to build broad, bipartisan consensus for WIC’s programmatic goals and public health mission. NWA provides member-driven advocacy; education, guidance, and support to WIC staff; and drives innovation to strengthen WIC as we work toward a nation of healthier women, children, and their families. Learn more at www.nwica.org.