WASHINGTON – Ahead of a potential government shutdown – which could put nearly 7 million women and children WIC recipients at risk of losing benefits – Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture and Horticulture, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05), re-introduced the WIC for Kids Act, legislation to eliminate enrollment barriers to Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) for millions of pregnant women, mothers, and children.

House Republicans continue to debate funding cuts with less than 3 days until a government shutdown and each proposal by House Republicans actively attacks WIC and other vital programs for families. Once the shutdown takes effect, the 7 million women and children, who count on WIC would be turned away from grocery store checkouts in a matter of days.

“While House Republicans fight amongst themselves to advance extremist policies, House Democrats are focused on solutions consistent with our values to keep the government open and assist the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. “Millions of mothers and children who are eligible for WIC do not access the program. In fact, only 50.2% of those eligible are currently enrolled. Removing undue barriers will connect more mothers and children to WIC and provide the nutrition necessary for early development.”

Congresswoman Hayes first introduced the WIC for Kids Act in the 117th Congress.

The most recent United States Department of Agriculture data indicates nearly half of WIC-eligible individuals in Connecticut participate in the program. Overall, only 50.2 percent of eligible Americans participate in WIC.

Of the 47,236 WIC recipients in Connecticut:

  • 9,990 are women.
  • 25,609 are children.
  • 11,637 are infants.

WIC is a cost-effective investment in families that leads to healthier infants, more nutritious diets and better health care for children. Unfortunately, there are nearly 6 million low-income mothers and children who are eligible for WIC who cannot access their benefits.

Low participation and retention are due in part to the prolonged process of recertification, which can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Evidence suggests that bringing in income and residency documentation for initial and subsequent WIC certifications may cause some families to drop out of the program or choose not to participate in the first place.

Enrolling in WIC through adjunctive eligibility, on the other hand, takes about one minute and simply requires a WIC client to present their Medicaid card or demonstrate receipt of SNAP or TANF benefits.

Specifically, the WIC for Kids Act grants automatic eligibility for WIC for mothers and children who:

  • Reside in a household in which a member participates in SNAP.
  • Participate in Children’s Health Insurance Program.
  • Participate in Head Start or reside in a household in which one or more children are enrolled in Head Start.
  • Reside in a household that participates in Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
  • Are members of a family of a pregnant woman, postpartum woman, infant, or child that receives medical assistance from Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The bill also allows for certification periods to be adjusted to help align family certification periods and directs states to include a plan on how they will serve kinship families as part of their state plans.

The WIC for Kids Act is cosponsored by: 

Adams, Alma (D-NC12), Bowman, Jamaal (D-NY16), Courtney, Joe (D-CT2), DeSaulnier, Mark (D-CA10), Grijalva, Raúl (D-AZ7), Jayapal, Pramila (D-WA7), McBath, Lucy (D-GA7), Takano, Mark (D-CA39), Wilson, Frederica (D-FL24), Leger Fernandez, Teresa (D-NM3), Barragán, Nanette (D-CA44), Brown, Shontel (D-OH11), Bush, Cori (D-MO1), Carbajal, Salud (D-CA24), Carson, André (D-IN7), Cherfilus-McCormick, Sheila (D-FL20), Chu, Judy (D-CA28), Cohen, Steve (D-TN9), Crockett, Jasmine (D-TX30), Cárdenas, Tony (D-CA29), Davis, Danny (D-IL7), DeLauro, Rosa (D-CT3), Dean, Madeleine (D-PA4), Doggett, Lloyd (D-TX37), García, Jesús “Chuy” (D-IL4), Goldman, Dan (D-NY10), Gomez, Jimmy (D-CA34), Himes, James “Jim” (D-CT4), Horsford, Steven (D-NV4), Hoyle, Valerie (D-OR4), Jackson Lee, Sheila (D-TX18), Jackson, Jonathan (D-IL1), Jacobs, Sara (D-CA51), Johnson, Henry C. “Hank” (D-GA4), Kamlager-Dove, Sydney (D-CA37)   , Kaptur, Marcy (D-OH9), Keating, William R. (D-MA9), Larson, John (D-CT1), Lee, Barbara (D-CA12), McGarvey, Morgan (D-KY3), McGovern, James “Jim” (D-MA2), Moore, Gwen (D-WI4), Mullin, Kevin (D-CA15), Napolitano, Grace (D-CA31, Norton, Eleanor (D-DC), Payne, Donald (D-NJ10), Pocan, Mark (D-WI2), Salinas, Andrea (D-OR6), Scanlon, Mary (D-PA5), Sewell, Terri (D-AL7), Thanedar, Shri (D-MI13), Titus, Dina (D-NV1), Tlaib, Rashida (D-MI12), Tokuda, Jill (D-HI2), Torres, Ritchie (D-NY15), Velázquez, Nydia (D-NY7), Watson Coleman, Bonnie (D-NJ12), Williams, Nikema (D-GA5), Kuster, Ann (D-NH2), Peltola, Mary (D-AK)

Full text of the bill can be found here.

"The Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports the WIC for Kids Act which connects families to the WIC program, improves food security and ultimately the nutritional status of families in Connecticut.  We thank Representative Hayes for her strong commitment to nutrition," said Teresa Dotson, President-Elect of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"The WIC for Kids Act represents a pivotal step towards creating a more inclusive and accessible system of support for families across the country,” said Christy Gleason, Vice President of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children. “This legislation not only streamlines the WIC application process but also allows eligible children to stay on the program longer and reduces the administrative burden for families who already receive other eligibility-based federal support. We enthusiastically endorse this bill which will fortify the incredibly important WIC program and help ensure all children and mothers will have access to the necessary resources for a healthy future."

“WIC is a key federal nutrition program that reduces food insecurity, improves dietary intake, addresses obesity and improves other health outcomes,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Lauri Wright, the 2023-2024 President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The WIC For Kids Act would help reach more women, infants and children with nutrient-dense supplemental food, nutrition education including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health and social services.”

"WIC is a powerful evidence-based program that delivers vital resources and services to moms and kids across the country, yet too many people continue to face barriers to participate," said Lisa Davis, senior vice president of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. "This bill helps to remove those barriers and streamlines eligibility so more families can benefit from the nutrition and security WIC provides."

Endorsements: Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, Alliance to End Hunger, American Heart Association, American Muslim Health Professionals, Association of State Public Health Nutritionists, BCDI Philadelphia & Vicinity, Bread for the World, Bridgeport Prospers, Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families, Connecticut FoodShare, Educare Learning Network, End Hunger CT!, Farmers Market Coalition, First Focus Campaign for Children, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network Speaks!, Healthy Black Pregnancies, Institute for Child Success, International Fresh Produce Association, Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut, Kansas Action for Children, Kidzone South Haven, Lena Pope, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, March for Moms, National Milk Producers Federation, National WIC Association, Nebraska Head Start Association, Parents as Teachers, Raising Illinois, Save the Children, School Nutrition Association, Share Our Strength, She Leads Justice, South Carolina Program for Infant/Toddler Care, Start Early, StriveTogether, The Alliance of Children & Families, The Boston Foundation, The Children's Advocacy Alliance, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The National Family Support Network, The Union of Concerned Scientists, Together for Hope, UnidosUS, United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut, Waterbury Bridge to Success, White Center Parent Ambassadors, ZERO TO THREE