Thousands of young families could lose out on nutrition benefits if Congress fails to act soon.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has seen a recent uptick in enrollment, reversing a lengthy, downward trend. Historically, only about 50% of all eligible participants enrolled in and utilized the program that provides nutrition assistance benefits and other resources to families with children ages 0-5.
The increased enrollment means the nation’s FY23 funding levels are likely inadequate as the new year approaches. Foodlink and many of the nation’s top anti-hunger advocacy organizations have expressed concern that last week’s Continuing Resolution to prevent a government shutdown did not include additional funding for WIC. Without additional support, families could be denied benefits or waitlisted in 2024 — and some of the outreach efforts that have made gains in the past year could be halted.
More than 6.7 million people participate in WIC nationally, including more than 420,000 New Yorkers.
According to Luis Guardia, President & CEO of the Food Research & Action Center: “WIC participants are facing the risk of losing these vital benefits if Congress does not include enough funding for WIC in the final fiscal year 2024 appropriations package. This would result in an unfortunate disruption of services and long waiting lists, leaving more women, infants, and young children hungry and unable to access other critical WIC services. Congress must do everything in its power to prevent this crisis from taking place and ensure that states can provide WIC benefits and services to pregnant and postpartum women with low incomes and their young children.”
Foodlink has always supported WIC, but its direct involvement in the program changed in 2021 when its Curbside Market became the first mobile market in the entire nation to sell WIC-eligible products. The market started with a few pilot sites in 2021, and now has 16 of its 65 sites offering WIC-eligible foods on its current schedule. Early in 2024, the market intends to include WIC products at all sites.
>>> FRAC’s Action Alert: Sign petition to urge Members of Congree to increase WIC funding