2024: KEEPING WIC STRONG FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS
For 50 years, WIC has been at the center of positive public health outcomes, championing access to healthy food, breastfeeding support, health screenings, and referrals. WIC providers have been consistently innovating to reach more eligible families and lean into a more modern service delivery model. Effective measures adopted in recent years – including the evidence-based expansion of WIC’s fruit and vegetable benefit and introduction remote service options – are positioned to become longer-term tools that can be leveraged to present WIC as a modern and accessible program that delivers targeted and impactful nutrition support at critical times of growth and development. Reframing WIC and harnessing the progress of State and local innovations will require the collective voice of WIC providers, stakeholders, and advocates to build momentum for a modern WIC. In 2024, WIC reforms can be accomplished through:
- Appropriations: The annual process to fund federal programs, including WIC. WIC will need to secure increased investment to account for the challenges of an increase in caseload. The WIC caseload increased by 5% in fiscal year 2023, from 6.4 million participants to 6.7 million. This trend of an increased caseload has been consistent across participant categories. Funding will also be needed to improve Management Information Systems to ensure timely and swift implementation of updated WIC food packages.
- USDA Rulemaking: USDA proposed science-based updates to the WIC food packages in November 2022, including steps to make the expanded fruit and vegetable benefit permanent. More recently, USDA also proposed updates to WIC vendor regulations. These updates are anticipated to be released soon.
- Enhancing Remote Services: In recent years, USDA has had the authority to waive physical presence requirements to provide remote services and/or remote benefit issuance to evaluate the modernization of WIC services and increase access to WIC benefits through September 2026. WIC modernization efforts, like remote appointments, have made connecting with and remaining on WIC easier, which is why we need to build on current progress.
- Authorizing Legislation: Despite numerous bipartisan attempts in recent years, WIC has not been reauthorized since Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act in 2010. As the Agriculture Committees continue to work on advancing a Farm Bill, there are new opportunities to improve linkages between SNAP and WIC, particularly in the retail space. Despite the focus on the Farm Bill, NWA is working to build support for urgently needed WIC reforms, such as the Wise Investment in our Children Act (WIC Act), the MODERN WIC Act, and the WIC for Kids Act.
take action to strengthen wic
With potential reforms on the table, now is the time to engage with the National WIC Association and help usher in the next generation of WIC services. In 2021, the National WIC Association convened the WIC Action Network to keep grassroots supporters informed and strengthen public education efforts about WIC services during COVID-19. Connect with the WIC Action Network to hear about the current policy landscape and plug in with opportunities to raise your own WIC voice. Learn more about current WIC priorities with the following resources:
Oct 13 2023 Oct 5 2023 Aug 15 2023