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DeLauro, Sánchez, González-Cólon, Schrier, National WIC Association Announce Reintroduction of the Wise Investment in Children (WIC) Act

May 13, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (May 13, 2020) Today, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, joined Congresswomen Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Jenniffer González-Cólon (PR-AL), Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), and the National WIC Association in reintroducing the Wise Investment in Children Act (WIC Act). The legislation would extend the eligibility for children to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) until their sixth birthday, extend the certification period to two years, and extend post-partum eligibility to two years for all mothers.

“For more than 40 years, the WIC program has been providing families a stronger start to a healthier life through nutrition, breastfeeding education, and improved access to health care and healthy foods,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “But, as effective as WIC is, there is a glaring issue that the federal government must correct: WIC currently provides nutrition services only up to a child’s fifth birthday. Since each school district has their own cut-off date for kindergarten eligibility, many youngsters do not enter school until well after their fifth birthday—creating an alarming nutrition gap. And with schools closed and the national school meal program under more strain than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that gap is even wider than ever. That is unacceptable; no child should go hungry in our country. That is why I am proud to reintroduce this legislation to fix this problem alongside my distinguished colleagues and the National WIC Association.”

“Access to proper nutrition is critical to the health and development of children,” said Congresswoman Sánchez. “By increasing the WIC age limit from five to six, we would close a crucial gap for kids who turn six before entering kindergarten and becoming eligible for school meals. This improvement to WIC is especially needed now as many schools across the country remain closed and children have a harder time obtaining free school meals."

"The WIC program provides supplemental nutrition, education and consultation services for low-income women and children,” said Congresswoman González-Cólon. “During fiscal year 2019, Puerto Rico had over 106,000 participants, including infants, children between the ages of 1-4, pregnant and post-partum women. These are significant numbers that underscore the need to continue strengthening this program and the services provided for our communities. The WIC Act will allow us to do just that. Most notably, this bill extends the period in which children are covered, ensuring a safe transition to child nutrition programs offered at schools, and provides flexibilities for the certification process. I am proud to be an original cosponsor and look forward to working alongside my colleagues to get this bill across the finish line.”

“This is a much-needed expansion of WIC that will make sure that children and moms are not falling through the cracks,” said Congresswoman Schrier, M.D. “As a pediatrician, I know that as children grow, proper nutrition helps them become healthier both physically and cognitively. Moms will also have increased access to care at a time when they need all of the support we can give them to make sure mom and baby are healthy.”

“The Wise Investment in our Children Act strengthens vital nutrition assistance for women and young children. As WIC agencies adjust services to meet immediate family needs in the COVID-19 emergency, the need for resolving crucial nutrition gaps for young children and postpartum mothers has been amplified,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association. “The WIC Act strategically leverages WIC’s effective nutrition interventions to assure positive birth outcomes and healthy child development by investing in these key growth periods and streamlining access to encourage sustained participation. We thank Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Linda Sánchez, Kim Schrier, and Jenniffer González-Colón for championing these common-sense program reforms to expand access to WIC’s quality nutrition services. Like WIC itself, this legislation is a targeted investment in growing a healthier generation of Americans.”

DeLauro and Sanchez first introduced the WIC Act in 2015. The full text of the bill can be found here.