June 17, 2011
Washington D.C. – Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives approved devastating cuts to important nutrition supports for hundreds of thousands of low income infants, children, and pregnant and postpartum women by passing the fiscal year 2012 House Agriculture Appropriations bill.
The bill drastically slashes funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), resulting in low-income women, infants, and children losing much needed nutrition assistance. Ironically, these cuts will force more people to rely on local charities for food assistance, yet at the same time, the legislation reduces support for emergency food providers, such as food banks, faith-based pantries, and other local agencies. The House approved bill also under funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) reserve fund.
WIC provides a nutritious monthly food package to 8.9 million low-income pregnant and nursing women, infants, and young children at nutritional risk. The nutrition that WIC provides reduces the incidence of low-birth weight and associated health costs. Furthermore, for every dollar spent on pregnant women enrolled in WIC, there is a savings of $3.50 in health care costs. The fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives would fund WIC at $6.048 billion dollars, a reduction of $686 million dollars below the fiscal year 2011 level in which WIC had already faced a significant cut. As a result of the inadequate 2012 funding level, between 200,000 and 350,000 low-income mothers and young children are expected to be cut from this vital program. Over the past 15 years, Administrations and Congresses on both sides of the aisle have made it a priority to provide enough funding to serve all eligible women, infants, and children who apply. The proposed cut would break that 15-year bipartisan commitment.
“We applaud Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for her efforts to restore some of the funding for WIC in the full Appropriations Committee markup,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan advocacy group. “We also commend Members of the House of Representatives who, in a bipartisan manner, voted against two harmful amendments that ultimately failed, including amendments by Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) to cut the WIC program by 10 percent and another by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), which would have resulted in an additional cut of $82.5 million from the WIC program.
“Last year Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle came together to pass a strong child nutrition reauthorization. It is imperative that as America continues to recover from the economic downturn, our nation’s leaders provide adequate funding to ensure that all eligible children are able to benefit from the federal nutrition safety net. Doing so is critical to the health and well-being of America’s next generation. As the United States Senate moves forward with their appropriations process, we urge Senators to fund WIC at $6.83 billion in order to keep pace with rising food prices, and to ensure that WIC is able to serve every eligible mother and child in need.