Levin Announces Legislation to Invest in Low-Income Mothers and Healthy Food for Kids
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Andy Levin (D-MI) today announced legislation that would modernize the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program. The Building a Better WIC Act would invest $20 million in the WIC program to upgrade technology and infrastructure that will bring WIC into the 21st century while promoting convenience, safety and equitable access to supplemental foods for the most vulnerable Americans.
As the economy contracts from the effects of the pandemic, more single mothers and low-income households will need safe, equitable access to WIC’s supplemental nutrition programs. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the way of life of working families. The devastating impact of the pandemic has led to record-level increases in child hunger, with around 25% of American children suffering from food insecurity. Modernizing WIC will provide families and young children with the nutrition they need while stimulating our local economies through the purchase of healthy, fresh foods.
“Investing in families is investing in the future of our country and has been a focus of mine throughout the pandemic,” said Rep. Levin. “As we work to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, we must ensure that not a single mom or baby is left behind. The modernization of WIC’s infrastructure will enable working families to access nutritious foods more easily, contributing to the efforts of Congress and the White House to decrease food insecurity. I am excited to work with House leadership and the Biden administration to include the Building a Better WIC Act in the upcoming American Family Plan.”
“WIC shoppers are an essential customer base for many stores. They have a demonstrated impact on shaping retail grocer behaviors,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association. “Streamlining the shopping experience with eWIC has positively transformed the WIC program, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this progress, barriers remain, rendering the shopping experience less than equitable. WIC consumers continue to report stigma, inadequate cashier training, and difficulty finding approved foods. The National WIC Association applauds Rep. Levin on calling for funding toward online shopping and mobile payments. We pledge to work with Rep. Levin and others keen to enhance WIC's effectiveness and remove inequities and barriers to service.”
In August 2020, Congressman Andy Levin, joined by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), introduced the COVID-19 WIC Safety and Modernization Act, which was included in the Fiscal Year 2021 omnibus spending and pandemic relief legislation that become law in late December. This law establishes a task force that brings USDA to the table to identify barriers – including existing regulations – that keep retailers from exploring modern transaction options for WIC families, like online shopping.
Read the full text of the bill here.