[Video] USDA working to modernize WIC access for over six million eligible families

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags WIC Usda Nutrition

FoodNavigator-USA sat down with Stacey Dean, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNS) to discuss how the agency is working to improve access for over six million eligible families not currently utilizing WIC based on findings from FNS’ report.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, serves millions of mothers and their children up to age five. FNS reported in its study​ that out of the 12.13 million mothers, infants and young children who were eligible for WIC in 2021, only a little over half, or 6.21 million of those eligible actually participated in the program.

“We want to increase access and the President put forward a proposal to give USDA some resources to work on modernizing, doing outreach and just addressing some of the problems that are getting in the way of eligible families connecting with the program. And we were so fortunate that Congress, through the American Rescue Plan, gave us some resources to try to tackle that problem. So we are working on outreach,” Dean explained.

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 provided $390m in grants​ for USDA to apply towards modernizing WIC's program, which includes improving the shopping experience in store for families, increasing accessibility through technology and remote access and supporting electronic payments in WIC’s Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program​.

While the Biden-Harris administration requested congressional funding for WIC earlier this fall, Congress has yet to take action. Without full funding, WIC may have to restrict its services, leaving some eligible families without the support they need.

“We’re making progress in connecting more of our nation’s youngest children and moms with WIC’s life-changing benefits,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. “It’s up to Congress to fully fund WIC this fiscal year and continue the 25-year bipartisan track record of making sure every eligible low-income mom, infant, and child seeking WIC services can get the vital nutrition they need to thrive.” 

 

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