Participation in the Women Infants and Children program has plummeted by 25 percent this decade, reaching the point that only 3 of every 5 eligible people apply for the supplemental food and health care referrals offered to low-income pregnant women, new mothers and their offspring up to age 5. In a report issued today, the anti-hunger Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) spelled out dozens of ways for government agencies, grocers, schools and nutrition activists could remove barriers and maximize enrollment.
After warning against saddling small schools with big-city regulations, Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts said on Wednesday that Congress could act swiftly on the overdue renewal of child nutrition programs. The programs, headlined by school lunch and WIC, cost $30 billion a year.
Although key lawmakers in the House and Senate support an update of U.S. child nutrition programs, headlined by school lunch and WIC, the timeline for those updates is unclear. “If we can’t go forward, we’ll wait,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow on Thursday, in a reference to disputes over school food standards.
The Trump administration will release an estimated $4.8 billion to SNAP recipients on January 20, nearly two weeks early, to ensure they get their February food stamps despite the partial government shutdown, announced Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Tuesday. The USDA said its other public nutrition programs, including WIC, school lunch and food donations, are funded through February, alleviating concerns of hunger among millions of Americans during a protracted shutdown.
Two of the major public nutrition programs, SNAP and WIC, could run out of money if the partial government shutdown persists into February and beyond, affecting millions of people. While the USDA says funding is assured for this month, it is not as clear about what to expect in the future.
On Thursday, budget director Mick Mulvaney unveiled the federal reorganization plan that President Trump set in motion in his second month in office. Under the proposal, SNAP and WIC would be moved from the USDA to a new agency, the Department of Health and Public Welfare.
The USDA’s senior nutrition official, Brandon Lipps, announced an enhanced focus on program integrity for the agency’s 15 public nutrition programs, which include SNAP, school meals, and WIC.
Amid fears of a new immigration policy from the Trump administration, immigrants hoping to become permanent U.S. residents are dropping out of public food assistance programs, reports the New York Times.
Undocumented immigrants have become cautious of seeking food aid in the Trump era because of fears they could be targeted for deportation, said a panel of food security experts last week in San Francisco.
A study by the CDC and USDA shows that obesity rates among children ages 2-4 who are enrolled in the so-called Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. Rates are down in 31 states, said the Trust for America's Health, but the average of 14.5 percent is still too high.