This spring, the U.S. House of Representatives proposed cuts to the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition and health program (WIC). WIC provides much-needed health care and nutrition support for some of our most vulnerable families, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, and children under the age of five years old.
Hunger in America is prevalent. Hunger poses a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of an ever-increasing number of infants and children. According to the WIC website, “…[when] WIC was permanently authorized, 88,000 people participated. By 1980, participation was at 1.9 million; by 1985, 3.1 million; by 1990, 4.5 million; and by 2000, 7.2 million. Average monthly participation for FY 2008 was about 8.7 million. Children have always been the largest group of WIC participants. Of the 8.7 million people who received WIC benefits each month in FY 2008, about 4.33 million were children, 2.22 million were infants, and 2.15 million were women.”[i] Estimates from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that funding WIC at the US House proposed low-level would result in eliminating 200,000 to 350,000 eligible low-income women and young children from WIC next year.[ii] It is a well-known fact that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of healthy children thus highlighting the need for continued funding for feeding programs such as WIC.
On May 31, 2011, in response to the devastating funding cuts proposed by House Republicans, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement about the proposed cuts to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).[iii] These cuts further the attack on poor and working class Americans outlined in the FY12 Republican budget which proposes to severely cut funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by $127 billion over ten years. [iv]
“House Republicans are trying to deny low-income mothers access to healthy food options. Their priorities are sorely misplaced. They push for tax cuts for big oil companies and threaten families with the greatest needs in this economy. If children don’t develop healthy habits early, if they don’t have enough food, they can struggle in the classroom and in life.
“Just a short time ago, President Obama signed into law transformational legislation that will dramatically improve school meals and other child nutrition programs. We came together in a bipartisan way to pass this legislation, to cut hunger and improve the meals our children eat in and out of school. And now, the House Republicans would reverse the progress made and threaten the mothers, families and children who rely on WIC on a daily basis.
“It is absolutely necessary to take a long hard look at government spending to avoid wasting any taxpayers’ dollars, but time and time again, Republicans wrongfully make their cuts on the backs of poor and working class Americans.”[v] For more information on WIC, visit the WIC website at www.fns.usda.gov.”
Sources: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Voices for America’s Children’s Action Alert. WIC’s website. U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA)’s website where he released his statement on the proposed WIC Cuts in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art