Unless Congress Acts Now, Families Will Soon Have Fewer WIC Benefits
In December, a Continuing Resolution extended the WIC benefit bump until March 31, 2022. Enacting the benefit bump was a response to hardship driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the ongoing public health emergency, the benefit bump is set to expire at the end of next month -- unless Congress takes action. The WIC bump must be included in the upcoming fiscal year 2022 omnibus package to ensure ongoing support. Cutting the benefit prematurely will affect more than 750,000 pregnant women, parents, and young children in California. That will mean fewer resources for families to purchase the fruit and vegetables they need to be healthy and thrive.
The bump increased WIC fruit and vegetable benefits from $9-11 per month to $24 per month for children and $43 per month for pregnant and postpartum participants. This change better reflects the cost of purchasing fruits and vegetables to meet recommended dietary intakes. The WIC benefit bump enables families with low income to purchase a greater variety and quantity of nutritious fresh foods during critical periods of child development. These benefits can also help counter the effects of rising food prices, improve children’s health, establish and support healthy eating habits, and support the wellbeing of breastfeeding mothers, amongst other positive outcomes.
Carmina from San Diego explains, “The $35 increase has allowed me to purchase more fruits and vegetables, now I can buy the grapes and strawberries that my toddler loves. Before, with the $9 I could only afford to buy 4 oranges or apples and one or two vegetables for the month. Now I can give my son tomatoes, carrots, celery, spinach, cucumbers, and even pineapple! I am able to afford a greater variety of fruits and vegetables and I feel more confident my son will grow healthy and strong. WIC has been instrumental in our ability to eat healthier ”
The increase in the WIC fruit and vegetable benefit is life changing for many families. Your advocacy can help children and families get the critical resources they need.
Congress must take action before February 18th to extend the WIC bump through the fiscal year 2022 omnibus package.