Home Efforts begin to modernize and strengthen WIC, nutrition for American children

Efforts begin to modernize and strengthen WIC, nutrition for American children

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The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act would include 10 titles aimed to reauthorize WIC and other child nutrition programs in the United States, including the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), school meals and summer feeding programs.

Introduced July 20 by Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, chair of the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee, according to a press release, the legislation is the first Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill in more than six years, since Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas introduced a Senate bill in 2016. The last Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill enacted into law was the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act incorporates several WIC provisions, including provisions drawn from the Wise Investment in our Children Act (WIC Act), which extends postpartum WIC eligibility and certification periods from six months (or one year, if breastfeeding) to two years, extends child WIC eligibility from age 5 to age 6 or the beginning of full-day kindergarten, and extends infant certification periods from one to two years. Provisions from the WIC for Kids Act include extension of child certification periods from one to two years and automatic certification of infants born to pregnant participants.

Provisions are also drawn from the MODERN WIC Act, including investment of $90 million per year in WIC technologies; from the Healthy Beginnings Act, which establishes a public website containing active bid solicitations for infant formula procurement; and from the Supporting Healthy Outcomes for Mothers and Infants Act Updates statutory language for initiatives related to substance use disorder, which invests $180 million per year in breastfeeding peer counselors.

“The urgently needed improvements in this bill seamlessly incorporate lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to build a modern and accessible WIC for the next generation of families with babies and young children,” the National WIC Association said in the press release.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.