Washington, D.C, June 16, 2011 - In a sad day for our nation’s most vulnerable population, the U.S. House of Representatives today voted largely along party lines (217-203) to cut hundreds of thousands of mothers and young children off of the nation’s premier public health nutrition program serving low-income mothers and young children to age 5 – the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – eliminating access to critical nutritious foods, nutrition services and referrals to health care and social services.
The legislation, the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture spending bill (H.R.2112) funds WIC at $6.048 billion – a $686 million reduction from the current fiscal year’s funding level of $6.734 billion. Current funding allows WIC to serve roughly 8.9 million mothers and young children. Under the House’s approved bill, between 200,000 and 750,000 low-income mothers and young children will be cut from the Program in the midst of a still weakened economy.
“Families turning to WIC for nutrition assistance are vulnerable and at-risk,” said Kiran Saluja, Chair of the National WIC Association, NWA Board of Directors.” Economic crises compound their vulnerability and WIC food packages and the nutrition services that accompany them ensure that WIC mothers and young children stay healthy.”
“With these funding cuts, WIC will be forced to turn mothers and young children away!” said the Rev. Douglas A. Greenaway, President & CEO of NWA. “WIC’s food budgets, like all families’ food budgets, are sensitive to inflation. Economists are predicting food prices to rise by at least 5% during the 2012 fiscal year, so there won’t be enough money to meet the nutritional needs of all WIC families.”
Quality nutrition services are the centerpiece of WIC: nutrition and breastfeeding education, nutritious foods, and improved healthcare access for low and moderate income women and children with, or at risk of developing, nutrition-related health problems, including overweight, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. Research demonstrates that the food and nutrition education components of WIC work synergistically to achieve successful outcomes:
- WIC prenatal care benefits reduce the rate of low birth-weight babies by 25% and very low birth-weight babies by 44%.
- Infants receiving WIC are less likely to be underweight and are in better health than eligible infants not participating in WIC.
- WIC children have improved nutrient intakes, improved immunizations rates, and dramatically reduced risks of child abuse or neglect.
The National WIC Association, NWA, is a non-profit representing the nearly 9 million mothers and young children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – known as WIC – and the nation’s 12,200 dedicated WIC service provider agencies.
For further information contact the National WIC Association on 202/232-5492 or visit our web site at www.nwica.org.