Vilsack urges Congress to restore funding for WIC
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is urging Congress to fully fund the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
During a call with reporters Thursday, the Secretary said WIC is critical to providing nutrition and health support for those in need. “Of the 6.7 million participants, which is up about 400,000 from a year ago,” he says. “Over 3.6 million of those are children, 1.5 million infants, and 1.5 million women are beneficiaries under this program.”
Earlier this week, Congressional Democrats sent a letter to leaders of both the U.S. House and Senate requesting that any final appropriations package fully funds the WIC program for fiscal year 2024.
He says Democrats remain fully committed to fighting for funding. “Obviously, they’ve gone through a process,” he says. “But I think at the end of the day, once the budget is done in, in total, I think the goal is to try to get to full funding. And indeed, the shortfall is at this point in time, based on projections in terms of participation rates.”
Vilsack says if Congress continues to fund the program at the current lower Continuing Resolution level for the remaining months of the fiscal year, it will result in a $1 billion shortfall. He says many states would likely implement waiting lists for applicants to reduce costs. Under program rules, Vilsack says, waiting lists would be implemented for non-breastfeeding postpartum women first. Followed by children ages 1 to 5 who don’t have higher-risk medical issues.
The program had a $6 billion budget last year, and faces a shortfall due to rising food costs and increased participation.
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Author: Meghan Grebner