House FY24 Agriculture Appropriations Bill will Stall Progress, Decrease Access for Families in Need
1,000 Days is dismayed by the House Appropriations Committee’s fiscal year 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill released today. This bill under delivers in providing nutrition assistance to those in need and rolls back successful program improvements implemented during the pandemic. Of concern, the bill would reduce funding levels for WIC below current levels, with proposed funding $800 million below the FY24 President’s Budget request. This would result in fewer women and children being served, and possible waitlists for those that qualify for the program. The proposed House Agriculture Appropriations bill ends the increased fruit and vegetable benefits that have been provided to families since April 2021, further reducing nutrition benefits provided to WIC participants. These benefits have had multiple benefits, especially for young children, including increased fruit and vegetable consumption in WIC toddlers and a broader variety of fruit and vegetable purchases by parents. The bill also undermines the science-based review process for the WIC food package, preventing USDA from updating the foods provided to include more fruits, vegetables, seafood, and whole grains.
The proposed bill is short-sighted, cutting benefits to pregnant women, infants and children when investment in the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s 2nd birthday sets the foundation for all the days that follow. How well or how poorly mothers and children are nourished and cared for during the 1,000-day window has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive. Research has proven that WIC saves lives. WIC reduces fetal deaths and infant mortality; reduces low birthweight rates and increases the duration of pregnancy; and it improves the growth of nutritionally at-risk infants and children. We call on Congress to fund WIC at $6.35 billion in fiscal year 2024, providing essential nutrition services during this critical timeframe.