The following statement can be attributed to Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association:
"After two months of delay and with continued unreasonably high levels of unemployment and rising COVID-19 infections across the country, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and a number of Senate Republicans have unveiled a series of proposals that – taken together – are wholly inadequate to address the needs of infants and young children. When one-in-six families with children are struggling to afford food, it is unconscionable to advance another relief package without robust nutrition assistance.
"WIC providers have worked around the clock to drastically reshape services to meet the needs of at-risk pregnant women, new moms, babies, and young children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Through waivers initially granted by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, WIC has implemented remote services that deliver quality nutrition services while minimizing exposure risk for clinic staff, participants, and their families. These waivers are set to expire in two months, and any final legislation must include an extension of waiver authority through September 2021.
"Extension of WIC waivers is the bare minimum to ensure safe ongoing services, but Congress should be taking urgent action to address spiking food insecurity rates and put food in the hands of families. The House-passed HEROES Act, which advanced in May, wisely invested in federal nutrition programs – increasing the benefit levels for SNAP households, extending and expanding the Pandemic-EBT program as a substitute for school meals programs, and enhancing the value of WIC fruit and vegetable purchases. These thoughtful investments were supplemented by the House’s considerable aid to state and local governments, who have shouldered the burden of immediate relief.
"Since not a single one of these provisions was included in the Senate proposal, we have to wonder whether the Senate Majority is serious about addressing the real-life impacts of this crisis. These proposals stand at odds with the sense of justice embodied by the Honorable John Lewis – the Conscience of the Congress – whom the Senate Majority Leader eulogized earlier today. Was he not listening to his own words? The American people are looking for answers, and these proposals suggest that the Senate Majority Leader and his colleagues may be so detached from the realities of their constituents that they have no idea just how much families have struggled for months to make ends meet. Congress must act swiftly in the next few weeks to build upon these subpar Senate proposals, drawing on the comprehensive approach of the House-passed HEROES Act to deliver meaningful relief for children and families."