This morning, the House released the bill text for the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act. This continuing resolution includes a provision to extend the American Rescue Plan Act's temporary increase of WIC's Cash Value Benefit (CVB) for fruit and vegetable purchases that was set to expire on September 30. The Continuing Resolution would extend the benefit increase until December 2021 and reset benefit levels according to independent scientific recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).
WIC's fruit and vegetable benefit is generally $9/month for children and $11/women. Under the American Rescue Plan Act, both women and children received $35/month. Should the Continuing Resolution pass, WIC fruit and vegetable benefits would be set at 50% of recommended intake based on varying dietary patterns, resulting in $24/month for children, $43/month for pregnant and postpartum participants, and $47/month for breastfeeding participants.
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response:
"This morning, Congress renewed its ongoing commitment to WIC's important public health outcomes by including an extension of the WIC benefit bump in the continuing resolution. With more than 4.7 million women and children facing a steep decrease in benefits by September 30, Congress must act to ensure continued access to nutritious foods that support healthy pregnancies and guarantee a healthy start for all children in the United States.
"The three-month extension of the WIC benefit bump included in the continuing resolution further aligns benefit levels with independent expert advice from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). This ensures that participating women and children can access at least half of recommended intake for fruits and vegetables. As the pandemic continues, WIC's role in enhancing access to healthy foods is an effective strategy to counter rising pediatric obesity rates, deliver vital nutrients during important developmental stages, and prevent chronic diet-related conditions that fuel national healthcare expenditures.
"Time is of the essence. Over the summer, millions of families relied on the WIC benefit bump to purchase more fruits and vegetables and introduce a greater variety of produce to their children. These families cannot wait for brinksmanship and partisan intransigence. It is the paramount responsibility of Congress to ensure funding of ongoing services. We urge swift passage of the continuing resolution to ensure that WIC providers can issue these enhanced benefits with minimal disruption to families. We then look forward to working with Congress in the weeks ahead to secure House and Senate agreement on FY 2022 appropriations to extend the WIC benefit bump for the remainder of the fiscal year."