WIC Needs Immediate Funding to Protect the Health and Well-Being of Children

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a vital program that supports the health and well-being of pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and young children. WIC helps families with food purchasing, nutrition counselling, health care referrals, and breastfeeding support to promote the healthy development and growth of children and moms.   

In 2022 alone, WIC served over 6 million participants nationwide. Half of all infants nationwide qualify for the program.   

But, right now, this critical program is at risk. The annual funding bills proposed in both the Senate and the House underestimated the amount needed to support the program. Without additional funding, 600,000 new parents and young children could be turned away. It would be the first time WIC would see waiting lists in 25 years.  

To avert this crisis Congress must act now and include additional funding for WIC in the next short-term spending package or continuing resolution (CR) by November 17th. This down payment would allow states to continue operating WIC at needed levels. In addition, Congress must ensure WIC is fully funded in Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills to ensure women, infants, and young children have uninterrupted access to the program.  

Additionally, Congress must not take up the current House proposal that would cut the value of fruit and vegetable vouchers provided to WIC participants. The bill, if passed, would slash these benefits by 56%-70%, leaving families with only $11 to $15 per month to purchase healthy produce at a time of ongoing food cost inflation. 

The chart below with information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the impact of these proposals in the 4 active Children’s HealthWatch locations. You can see this information for every state on their website 

State  People Turned Away from WIC under House and Senate Bill  People with Fruit and Vegetable Benefits Cut under House Bill  Total People Impacted by House Bill 
AR  5,400  42,000  47,400 
MA  11,100  86,800  97,900 
MN  9,600  74,900  84,400 
PA  15,200  118,800  134,000

Children’s HealthWatch was founded to be an evidence-based advocate for young children. Over 25 years of research has shown the incredible impact WIC has on the health and well-being of kids and families. Our findings include: 

In addition, participation in WIC is associated with lower infant mortality rates, especially among Black mothers and children. According to a recent report the national infant mortality rate increased 3% from 2021-2022, the first increase in two decades. In a country with vast resources we should not have an infant mortality rate that puts us on par with the lowest income countries in the world.    

Congress must consider the impact of delaying or failing to act to protect WIC. The most recent food insecurity data from the United State Department of Agriculture shows a drastic increase in child food insecurity. Also, just earlier this year we saw child poverty rates double in analyses from the U. S. Census Supplemental Poverty Measure report. Additional cuts to funding for critically important programs like WIC will only exacerbate this problem, leading not only to a detrimental effect on children’s health and cognitive, motor, and socioemotional development but also increased costs for health care and education systems down the road. It is estimated that every $1 spent on WIC saves $2.48 in health care costs. An investment in WIC today will help secure the future for hundreds of thousands of children and mothers.  

If you would like to take action or share our research please see options below from our friends and colleagues: 

Now is the time to take action to protect WIC.  We hope you will join Children’s HealthWatch in urging Congress to fully fund this vital program.