October 20, 2018

Spending Bill Cuts $93 Million from WIC

The huge spending bill passed by Congress last week cuts $93,000,000 from the Women Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). That program gives low-income mothers and children vouchers for food that meets nutrition guidelines.

Baby Eating BroccoliWIC has been one of the most successful government programs in history. Both WIC and SNAP add money to local economies. In fact, every five dollars in SNAP benefits generates nine dollars in community spending. And the food purchased by SNAP recipients generates 3,000 farm jobs. In addition, every study shows that WIC improves birth outcomes. Almost half of the participants in SNAP are children.

Legislators did require the WIC program to add white potatoes to the foods on the allowed list, pandering to industry lobbyists. This addition will reduce the amount families can spend on other fruits and vegetables.

Foods on the WIC list follow a science-based decision process, based on a review conducted by the Institute of Medicine ten years ago. IOM is updating that review to include the latest scientific findings, but Congress didn’t wait for the results. This is the “first time in WIC’s 40-year history that Congress has overridden the science-based process and mandated the addition of a particular food,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

White potatoes have been exclude from WIC because, according to a May 2014 op-ed written by experts from Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Harvard. They stated, “the exclusion of white potatoes from WIC makes sense. Pregnant women, new mothers, and their children derive the greatest health benefit from eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables but date from the most recent national health and nutrition evaluation surveys reveal an unhealthy imbalance of white potatoes in the diet of average women of childbearing age.” White potatoes already contribute nearly 45% of vegetable intake.

The op-ed continues, “a growing body of evidence reveals that this starchy, energy-dense vegetable is associated with weight gain, obesity and diabetes, especially among vulnerable, low-income populations. Including white potatoes in the WIC package would potentially contribute to further disparities by provoking increased consumption of white potatoes instead of healthier fruits and vegetables.”

Nutrition experts and advocates are now concerned that Congress will listen to more lobbyists for other food industries and insist that WIC offer their foods, in spite of expert disapproval and regardless of the food’s nutritional qualities.

 

Comments

  1. This is truly sad and highlights the disintegration of our country’s morals and sense of justice and common sense. The SNAP program generates thousands of American jobs while helping feed the poorest children in our country. Yet, the conservatives continue to choose to give tax cuts to the very wealthy and promote passing a bill to build a pipeline that will only create 35 permanent jobs (but create lots of profits for private wealthy individuals). It’s abhorrent, immoral and just stupid for the long term economic health of this country. It’s apparent conservatives value nothing over profits even innocent children! They are despicable human beings.

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