President’s Budget Calls for Extending WIC Benefit Increase
On Friday, the White House released the President’s Budget for the fiscal year 2022. The President’s Budget is an annual proposal that starts the appropriations process in Congress. That process then determines funding levels for federal programs and services. This year, the President’s Budget called for a 16% increase in funding for domestic programs, including a total of $27.9 billion for USDA programs.
The President’s Budget builds on investments in the American Rescue Plan Act, seeking to extend the four months of enhanced WIC benefits for fruits and vegetables for an entire year through September 2022. Although overall funding levels will remain consistent with the fiscal year 2021 at $6 billion, the White House calls for an end to recalling funding that could not previously be spent down due to the limited value of the food package. The proposed extension of elevated WIC benefits results in a $1.2 billion increase in WIC funding, ensuring that women and children on the program continue to have $35 per month for fruits and vegetables – more than triple the initial value!
The President’s Budget also details USDA plans to advance a regulatory review that will bring the food packages further into alignment with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). NWA has championed the food package review as an opportunity to double the value and sustain investments from the American Rescue Plan Act, bringing participating women, infants, and children closer to these nutrition recommendations. Both NWA’s vision and the American Rescue Plan Act’s increase of WIC’s fruit and vegetable voucher reflect the thorough scientific basis for the food package presented in the 2017 review by an independent panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).
In addition to these crucial nutrition investments, the President’s Budget calls for two additional WIC investments – $100 million to replenish ongoing funding for WIC Management Information Systems and $200 million to support the contingency fund. This will ensure that USDA can support state needs should program costs or participation exceed budget estimates. The Budget would also earmark additional funding for WIC research and program innovation, building USDA capacity to support work, streamlining access to WIC, and creating a more participant-centered service-delivery model.
The Budget also included a $3 million increase in the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), a 14% increase from 2021. With additional funding, states could expand the WIC FMNP and new states could establish programs. After a similar increase in the fiscal year 2021, states could create new programs for the first time since the FMNP's start in 1992.
If you have any questions about the President’s Budget, please reach out to Senior Public Policy Counsel Brian Dittmeier at email@example.com or State Public Policy Associate Noora Kanfash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In response, Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of NWA, issued the following statement:
This budget demonstrates that the Biden Administration is solidly committed to building a healthier nation and rooting out nutrition insecurity, especially for children. By investing an additional $1.2 billion in WIC’s proven public health efforts, the Biden White House is smartly tackling the high health care costs associated with chronic diet-related conditions while also promoting new and stronger markets for producers.
Plainly said, increased access to fruits and vegetables leads to healthier kids. We look forward to working with Congress and USDA to extend this popular increase in WIC benefits and ensure that WIC program participants continue to access the nutritious foods necessary for healthy growth and development.