Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Wise Investment in Children (WIC) Act. The bipartisan bill would extend the eligibility for children to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) until their sixth birthday, extend the certification period to two years, and extend post-partum eligibility to two years for all mothers.
“The WIC program ensures that millions of women, infants, and children—including 16,000 in Maine—are getting the proper nutrition they need to grow and be healthy,” said Senator Collins. “The WIC Act would take important steps to keep eligible new mothers and young children enrolled in this successful and cost-effective nutrition program. By giving states the flexibility to address the WIC gap and reduce burdensome barriers to participation, our bipartisan bill builds upon the program’s proven ability to improve maternal and child well-being and health outcomes.”
“As millions of families are struggling financially due to the pandemic, new mothers and young children should not be burdened with lack of access to healthy foods. The long-term benefits of nutrition for children are immeasurable—when children are well nourished early in life they’re healthier and do better in school,” said Senator Casey. “By closing the WIC gap and expanding food benefits to age 6, we can help ensure children do not experience a nutritional disadvantage simply because of their birthdate.”
“The WIC Act is an important step to help us reduce food insecurity, improve health outcomes, and remove barriers to participating in the WIC program,” said Ginger Roberts-Scott, director of the WIC Nutrition Program at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “Especially for postpartum mothers, the WIC Act works to address nutrition gaps and pave the way for healthier subsequent pregnancies and improved maternal health outcomes. WIC is an efficient and effective way to build a healthier Maine, and this legislation is a strong effort to support our WIC families in meaningful ways.”
“The reintroduction of the Wise Investment in our Children Act (WIC Act) is an essential step that aims to tackle childhood inequities head-on through innovative ideas that center our children's needs first,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association. “The bill leverages WIC’s effective nutrition services to address coverage gaps in nutrition support for postpartum women, infants transitioning to solid foods, and young children preparing to start school. The WIC Act strengthens the program's effectiveness by supporting and addressing critical development stages, so babies and young children get a healthy start to life. We are grateful to our WIC champions – including Senator Casey, Senator Collins, Congresswoman DeLauro, Congresswoman González-Colón, Congresswoman Sánchez, Congresswoman Schrier, and Congressman Young – for their leadership in advocating for this legislation. The WIC Act is a targeted investment in growing a healthier generation of Americans. We look forward to its passage into law.”
WIC serves approximately 6.3 million pregnant and postpartum individuals, infants, and young children up to age five. For nearly fifty years, WIC has contributed to healthier pregnancies, improved birth outcomes for low-income women and infants, and healthier growth and development for young children. WIC’s access to healthy foods provides families with a greater variety and nutritional quality in their diets. WIC is a proven and cost-effective program that more than doubles the return on initial investment in medical, educational, and productivity cost-savings.
A list of national, state, and local organizations that support the WIC Act is available HERE.
The text of this legislation is available HERE.