Children and their mothers who are eligible for WIC (Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) assistance could be turned away next year unless Congressional appropriators fully fund the WIC program.
The WIC program improves the health of mothers and their children by providing supplemental foods, nutrition and breast.feeding education, nutrition screening and referrals to other social services. It serves low.income, nutritionally at-risk pregnant women; breast.feeding women; mothers for up to 6 months after the birth of an infant; infants and children up to their 5th birthday. WIC is not an entitlement but a Federal grant program which means Congress must authorize a specific amount of funds for the program each year.
The Presidents fiscal year 2004 budget requested $4.77 billion for the WIC program, based on projections that 7.8 million women, infants and children are expected to need WIC assistance next year. The House Appropriations Committee has already voted out an Agriculture Appropriations bill that will only provide $4.588 billion for WIC, $182 million less than the amount the President called for in his budget to meet current eligibility projections.
- The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will meet shortly after the Fourth of July recess to work on the FY 2004 appropriations bill. Call or visit these Senators while they are home for the recess, and let them know you are very concerned about WIC funding. Ask them to fully fund WIC by including in the Senate Agriculture appropriations bill the Presidents $4.77 billion WIC budget request, and make sure no hungry mother or child is turned away next year. (Find your Senators local office phone numbers at www.senate.gov or in the blue pages of your phone book.)
- Call your Senators even if they are not on the Subcommittee. Tell them you are concerned about the WIC funding, and ask them to weigh in with Chairman Sen. Robert Bennett and Ranking Member Sen. Herbert Kohl.
The U.S. Catholic bishops have consistently supported national policy to establish food security. As the Bishops wrote in 1989, "When the economy fails to provide the jobs and income necessary to prevent hunger and malnutrition, the various local, state, and national food assistance programs must be funded and expanded to provide food to all in need." Food Policy in a Hungry World, pp. 26.27.
For more information, contact Kathy Curran at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-541-3188