As Prepared For Delivery:
Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for joining today’s call.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—better known as WIC—is a vital program.
Just ask Janet Ortigoza.
Janet, one of the nearly 1 million WIC recipients from California, joined WIC in her first trimester.
“At the time, I wasn’t a healthy eater,” she said, “and I wasn’t sure what steps I needed to take to make sure I had a healthy pregnancy.”
Thanks to WIC, she could get the resources she needed. She said she considers WIC counselors “to be an important part of [her family’s] team.”
WIC means everything to the families who rely on it.
That’s why fully funding WIC continues to be a top priority for President Biden.
The evidence is clear.
WIC means healthier babies who are more likely to survive infancy. Down the line, those babies are more likely to receive medical care. As toddlers and schoolchildren, children who were on WIC perform better on tests of mental development and reading.
So, fully funding WIC should be a no-brainer. In fact, for 25 years, it has been a no-brainer.
There has been bipartisan support from Congress to make WIC available to every eligible person who applies for it.
The Biden-Harris Administration has repeatedly requested that Congress fully fund WIC in Fiscal Year 2024, but Congress hasn’t yet done so. Given the upcoming budget deadline on January 19th, it’s all the more urgent that Congress take action.
If Congressional Republicans pass a budget without fully funding WIC, states will have no choice but to cut the number of people they serve. People like Janet.
States would be forced to implement waiting lists or take other devastating measures.
Two million parents and young children could be turned away from WIC by September 2024 if Congress fails to provide full funding.
This is simply unacceptable.
Depriving eligible families of WIC would worsen hunger and hardship. No one deserves that.
“I need WIC; millions of other families do, too,” said Janet. “And that means we need Congress to step up.”
I couldn’t say it better myself.
Thank you. With that, I will turn it over to Secretary Vilsack. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for your tireless leadership to ensure food access for families across America.