Pennsylvania Senate Unanimously Passes Bill for Permanent WIC Advisory Board

Senator Judy SchwankImage via Pennsylvania Senate Democrats

PENNSYLVANIA — In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 721, which seeks to establish a permanent advisory board for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The bill, sponsored by state Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks), proposes the creation of the Women, Infants and Children State Advisory Board. This move comes as a response to the observed steady decline in WIC participation across the state.

Since its establishment in 1974, the Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC has been instrumental in improving the nutrition and health of families throughout the Commonwealth. The program, fully funded by the federal government, provides access to healthy foods, nutrition services, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care and social services.

The proposed WIC advisory board will comprise representatives from regional WIC agencies, agency partners, advocates, grocers, healthcare providers, and other relevant stakeholders. Its primary objective will be to boost WIC participation and increase awareness of the programs offered.

“WIC has the power to help thousands of Pennsylvania families without costing the commonwealth a dime,” Senator Schwank said. “However, we’ve seen enrollment dip. It’s clear that there is a need for the services offered by WIC in my district, as well as communities all over the Commonwealth. We need to explore ways to boost enrollment and make sure every Pennsylvanian who can benefit from WIC has access to these important services.”

In 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Health established the Women, Infants and Children Advisory Group, a body similar to what Senate Bill 721 aims to create. With the passage of this bill, the advisory board would become a legal entity, preventing any future administration from dissolving it. This step ensures that the advisory board will continue its essential work in promoting and supporting the WIC program, irrespective of any administrative changes.

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