U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) this week introduced a bill to improve access to nutrition assistance for vulnerable infants, children, and mothers across the country. The Wise Investment in our Children (WIC) Act would expand eligibility for children to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) until their sixth birthday or first day of kindergarten, extend the certification period for infants to two years, and extend post-partum eligibility to two years for all mothers. U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), Jenniffer Gonzales-Cólon (R-PR), Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA-38), Kim Schrier (D-WA-8), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Parents and young children need and deserve access to healthy foods. When children are well-nourished early in life, they’re healthier, and they perform better in school, setting them up for success,” said Senator Casey. “By closing the WIC gap and expanding food benefits to age 6, we can invest in the long-term benefits of nutrition for children and help ensure that more than 10,000 children in Pennsylvania are not facing hunger simply because of their birthdate.”
“The WIC program ensures that millions of women, infants, and children—including 17,400 in Maine—are getting the proper nutrition they need to grow and be healthy,” said Senator Collins. “The WIC Act would take important steps to keep eligible new mothers and young children enrolled in this successful and cost-effective nutrition program. By giving states the flexibility to address the WIC gap and reduce burdensome barriers to participation, our bipartisan bill builds upon the program’s proven ability to improve maternal and child well-being and health outcomes.”
For nearly fifty years, WIC has contributed to healthier pregnancies, improved birth outcomes for low-income women and infants, and healthier growth and development for young children. WIC is a proven and cost-effective program that more than doubles the return on the initial investment in medical, educational, and productivity cost-savings.
The WIC Act has broad support, including from the following organizations: National WIC Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Alliance to End Hunger, American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center for Science in the Public Interest, Save the Children, Share Our Strength, and March of Dimes.
Read more about the WIC Act here.
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