U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the bipartisan FY 2021 appropriations package includes $6 billion in funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to address the growing hunger crisis. Nationwide, 1 in 5 parents do not have enough money to feed their children. Millions of Americans, especially women, continue to be affected by widespread business closures and subsequent job loss and more low-income households are relying on social safety nets to feed themselves and their families. WIC providers have reported increased need due to the pandemic and economic crisis, including in New York, where they have experienced a 3% increase in cases since February.
“With full funding for WIC included in this year’s government funding bill, providers across the country will have more resources to keep low-income women, infants, and children fed. The pandemic and economic crisis have led many mothers to turn to social services for the first time — programs like WIC provide a vital lifeline for mothers to keep food on the table and makes healthy food and a healthy start to life accessible for all,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to have fought for this important funding to support states as they work to combat the growing hunger crisis and I am especially pleased that this legislation includes $90 million to continue WIC’s essential breastfeeding education and support program. At a time when families are facing historic levels of hunger, funding WIC is one of the most important investments we can make.”
Senator Gillibrand led a push for $6 billion in funding — including $90 million to continue WIC’s highly successful Breastfeeding Peer Counselor program, which provides vital peer-to-peer support, especially in underserved areas, and $14 million for program infrastructure.
Fully funding WIC will protect eligible applicants from being turned away and provide resources to adjust for rising food costs. Additionally, funding is essential for timely and responsible program management and reasonable staffing levels to meet growing demand and the rising costs of operating during a pandemic – including modifying clinic spaces and purchasing additional technology to provide remote services.