National WIC Association: Congress should not be pursuing policy changes that take food from the mouths of toddlers to put money in the pockets of infant formula manufacturers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House Oversight Committee is holding hearings this week examining the 2022 infant formula crisis and collecting insights in an effort to spark legislative actions that prevent future shortages. Testifying at the hearing were Frank Yiannas, a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official, and Peter Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The following statement is attributed to Dr. Jamila Taylor, National WIC Association (NWA) President & CEO:
“Let's be clear: WIC did not cause the infant formula shortages, in fact, WIC has been a lifeline to the thousands of families that were in disarray when formula was pulled from the shelves due to an issue that could have been prevented. Mr. Yiannas himself said 'the entire infant formula industry needs to wake up and say what they're doing is not adequate enough.'
“As we emerge from this crisis, NWA supports a comprehensive, cross-agency look at how infant feeding is addressed in this country. We believe that it is crucial to prioritize the safety and capacity of infant formula manufacturing, while also aligning with public health recommendations that promote breastfeeding support for families.
“Regarding WIC contracting, it is important to recognize the complex factors that led Congress to require sole-supplier contracts in the first place. WIC families deserve choice, but Congress cannot create an unlimited subsidy for infant formula manufacturers. Policymakers must strike a balance between containing costs and ensuring sufficient funding to serve WIC's caseload. With only two manufacturers equipped to bid on WIC contracts, proposals like multi-source contracting would gut WIC funding by up to $1.6 billion and threaten waiting lists for child participants. The last thing Congress should do is pursue policy changes that take food out of the mouths of vulnerable children to put money in the pockets of infant formula manufacturers at such a critical time in this country.
“We urge Congress to consider the broader dynamics at play during the infant formula shortages and to think carefully about the implications of any policy changes. As policymakers continue to assess the implications of infant formula scarcities, it is crucial they keep in mind these diverse and complex concerns, particularly funding WIC and containing prices to safeguard consumers. A thoughtful and comprehensive approach is necessary to ensure that all families have access to the nutritional support they need. WIC has been helping to fill this gap for families for almost 50 years.And we continue to be deeply committed to serving communities and working with policymakers to achieve this goal.”
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 6.3 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 drive innovation to strengthen WIC as we work toward a nation of healthier women, children, and their families. Learn more at www.nwica.org.