House Backs Bill to Replenish Nutrition Program
Thousands of poor women and children being cut from a popular federal nutrition program because of a shortage of funds would be reinstated under legislation approved Thursday by the House.
The bill, approved on voice vote, boosts the amount states can borrow against next year’s allocation of funds from 1% to 3%.
The change in rules for the Special Supplemental Feeding Program or Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, is expected to prevent almost 250,000 women and young children from losing all benefits for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
“This is about children,” said Rep. Tony P. Hall (D-Ohio), chairman of the House Select Committee on Hunger. “Every dollar we spend on the WIC program saves $3 later in health care costs.”
The nutrition program provides either food or vouchers usable at local stores for poor women who are pregnant or nursing and their babies and small children.
“They face malnutrition. They face anemia. They face bad health problems,” Hall said.
Unexpectedly high food prices used up so much of the $2.1 billion appropriated nationwide for this year that some states have started reducing their caseloads by eliminating all but the most desperate participants.
The National Assn. of WIC Directors said this week that 250,000 women and children would be eliminated by September if $72 million was not found for this year. The 3% borrowing capacity would infuse $66 million into the program, if fully used.
A total of about 4.5 million women and children are enrolled in the program.