WIC Week of Action
Because of the pandemic, moms are working harder than ever to keep their kids healthy, safe and fed. Moms want the best for their kids. But job losses and a lack of affordable child care have resulted in many moms struggling to provide nourishing food to their kids.
That’s why it’s critical that Congress makes the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program work better for moms. WIC provides vital nutrition to pregnant women, postpartum moms and young children.
In the lead up to Mother’s Day, from May 3 through 9, we’re organizing a WIC Week of Action. Our goal is to raise awareness among the public and Congress about the need to improve WIC. This toolkit provides more background about WIC and how you can engage your community to urge Congress to make WIC work better for moms and kids!
You can learn more and speak out about WIC by joining us for these two upcoming events:
- Join Save the Children Action Network and National WIC Association for an exclusive virtual panel discussion on May 6th at 8:00 pm about how to make WIC work better for moms and kids.
- Participate in a Twitter chat with partner organizations working to end child hunger on Wednesday, May 5 at 2 pm ET using #WICWorksChat
WIC, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, is a program that helps to address the nutrition and health needs of low-income pregnant and post-partum women, and infants and children up to age 5. WIC contributes to better pregnancy and birth outcomes, supports the development of young children, increases breastfeeding rates and reduces childhood obesity rates. WIC serves approximately half of all infants in the U.S. and roughly 6.4 million mothers and young children. Unfortunately, this number represents only about half of those eligible for WIC, due, in part, to burdensome enrollment requirements.
While WIC provides important nutrition for moms and young kids, the program hasn’t kept up with the needs of today’s moms and families. Specifically, WIC:
- Requires in-person visits to sign up for the program and re-certify benefits: This creates transportation, work and child care challenges for many moms. For moms living in rural areas far from local WIC offices, a lack of transportation can make it virtually impossible to participate. Providing virtual sign up and certification process would make it much easier for moms to sign up and renew benefits.
- Does not allow for online shopping or delivery: Requiring in-person shopping creates an inequitable shopping experience, especially during a pandemic. For moms in rural America and those living in food deserts, offering online shopping and delivery choices would provide them with more options for nutritious and affordable food.
- Ends before many children begin kindergarten: Currently WIC eligibility ends on a child’s 5th birthday. Since most children don’t start kindergarten until after they turn 5 ½, there is a gap until they start receiving the school meal programs. This means many children are missing out on consistent meals for at least 6 months. Extending WIC edibility until a child turns 6 or starts kindergarten would address this gap and ensure children receive the nutrition they need in these critical early years.
Congress has an opportunity to improve WIC through Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR). As Congress works through this process, we will urge them to make WIC work better for today’s moms and kids.
You can learn more about recommended improvements to WIC in this coalition letter to the Senate Agriculture committee.
|Federal nutrition program to support low-income families and their children in purchasing nutritious foods||✓||✓|
|Income eligibility to participate determined by states||✓||✓|
|Serves pregnant and post-partum women, infants and children up to age 5||✓|
|Everyone who meets the eligibility criteria and chooses to enroll will receive benefits||✓|
|Benefits can run out due to funding limitations||✓|
|Health assessment required||✓|
|Provides nutrition education||✓||✓|
|Provides breastfeeding education and support||✓|
|Restricted food options to focus on nutrient-dense food for growth, development and postpartum healing||✓|
Your WIC Week of Action will be more effective if you partner with others in your community. Consider these ideas when identifying potential partners:
- Local WIC offices
- Food banks
- Local Head Start programs
- Your state health department
- Breastfeeding peer counselors, often the WIC office
- Local Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics affiliates
- Women’s shelters
- Mothers’ support groups
- Local chefs or restaurant owners
You can invite partners to:
- Co-author a letter to the editor or longer op-ed about the importance of modernizing WIC through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization;
- Participate in our Twitter chat on Wednesday, May 5 at 2 pm ET using #WICWorksChat; and/or
- Join in our selfie action.
These are just a few ideas to get you going so don’t limit yourself to these!
During the week of action, it’s important that members of Congress hear loud and clear that it’s time to make WIC work better for moms and kids. Below are three easy ways you can make your voice heard.
Send an Email
Sending an email to your members of Congress is a helpful way to share the changes you’d like to see for the WIC program. We’ve created a pre-populated letter that you can customize for an even greater impact.
Share a Selfie on Social Media
We’ve created a downloadable flyer (in English and Spanish) for you to print and include in a selfie to share on social media. Consider inviting local partners to take selfies to post on their organizational and/or personal accounts as well.
Remember to tag your lawmakers in your post so they see it. Also, please use the hashtag #WICStrong and/or #childnutrition in your posts. Here’s a sample post:
[email protected], honor hard-working moms this #MothersDay by making WIC work better for today’s moms and young kids in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act. #WICStrong
Write a letter to the editor encouraging your members of Congress to prioritize improvements to WIC in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization. This is a great way to show public support. Customize the sample letter below and submit to your local newspaper.
To the Editor:
As we approach Mother’s Day, I find myself thinking more about all the incredible moms around the country. Because of the pandemic, moms have been working harder than ever to keep their kids safe, happy and healthy. [INSERT PERSONAL ANECDOTE, IF APPLICABLE].
Unfortunately, due to pandemic-related job losses and widespread school and child care closures, many moms are struggling to provide nourishing food for their kids.
Therefore, it’s critical that Congress make the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) work better for our nation’s moms. While WIC provides vital nutrition to millions of low-income moms and young children, only half of those eligible for WIC actually participate. That’s why our policymakers must take advantage of the opportunity to improve and modernize WIC through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) currently being discussed in Congress.
This Mother’s Day, join me and Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) in giving a gift to our nation’s mothers by urging [NAMES OF POLICYMAKERS] to support WIC modernizations in the CNR so today’s moms, infants and young children have access to the critical nutrition and health services they need to grow, develop and thrive.
When our children grow up healthier and happier, our nation grows healthier and happier, too. What could be more important?
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