WIC Bump and FY 2023 Appropriations
WIC delivers improved health outcomes on a shoestring budget. Before the pandemic, the average WIC benefit was only $36 per month, constituting less than 9 percent of an average monthly grocery budget. WIC benefits have never kept pace with inflation, barely rising from the $20 per month average benefit in 1976. Enhanced investment in the WIC benefit is long overdue to double down on the program’s effective nutrition intervention and secure improved health for America’s next generation.
In 2021, Congress relied on science-based recommendations to bolster the WIC benefit through enhanced access to fruits and vegetables. The WIC bump was sustained in bipartisan appropriations agreements throughout fiscal year 2022, including two continuing resolutions and the final omnibus package. The WIC benefit bump is set to expire at the end of December unless Congress takes action in fiscal year 2023 appropriations. After more than a year of increased benefits, recent data confirms that the WIC benefit bump is working exactly as intended:
- Fruit and vegetable purchases more than tripled. Data collected from 29 State WIC Agencies indicates that redemption rates have held relatively steady with implementation of the WIC benefit bump in summer 2021, indicating that purchases have increased at a rate proportionate to the benefit increase. NWA estimates the WIC benefit bump results in more than $75 million in additional fruit and vegetable sales each month.
- Children recorded a measurable increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. In 2021, the National WIC Association and Nutrition Policy Institute conducted a survey of 10,000 WIC participants across five State WIC Agencies, identifying an average increase of 1/4 cup per day of fruits and vegetables consumed by children.
- The WIC benefit bump significantly shifted participant perceptions of the value of the WIC benefit. Before the WIC benefit bump, 83 percent of surveyed WIC participants identified that WIC’s fruit and vegetable benefit was “not enough.” Only 26 percent echoed that sentiment after the WIC benefit bump was introduced. Higher-value benefits is an effective retention strategy, with 14 percent of surveyed WIC participants indicating they were unlikely to remain with the program if benefit levels reverted to baseline.