WIC got a reprieve last month from damaging FY 2013 sequestration cuts required by the Budget Control Act. Congress passed the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 replacing the expiring Continuing Resolution and funding WIC at a higher allocation of $7.056 billion through September 30, 2013. The higher CR appropriation for WIC raised the base upon which a 5% sequestration cut was imposed, with a further small amount subsequently shaved off by OMB to meet statutory caps. The final WIC funding level for the current fiscal year is $6.522 billion.
How could a total of $510 million in cuts be considered a reprieve for WIC? Because, even at this lower level, experts predict the appropriation will support full WIC participation. Contingency and carryover funds, declining caseloads (discussed in a previous blog), and tight fiscal management by state and local programs anticipating the worst, will allow the program to squeak through September.
Next fiscal year is another story entirely. President Obama’s FY 2014 WIC funding proposal of $7.142 billion should be fully adequate, but it’s far from certain to be the final number. The jobs picture is souring a little, and inflation will raise food and business costs. There will be less money left in the carryover/contingency pots to buffer funding cuts. Mandatory sequestration will again be in play, and the dynamics in Congress over how these cuts will be made will be much tougher, with fierce competition over scarce domestic discretionary funding.
In anticipation of the challenges of convincing Congress, particularly House appropriators, to continue supporting full funding for WIC, CWA is kicking off “Phase 3” of our WE NEED WIC organizing campaign designed to engage WIC’s key allies and business partners in communicating their support, by endorsing a simple statement that is posted on our website. By summer’s end, we would like to garner 500 endorsements by state and local groups, companies, and individuals, just in time to share them with Congress!
To meet our goal, we need your help! This will be easy because it’s all on-line. We’ll get you started at our Annual Conference Plenary, or you can use the WIC Employee Toolkit.
See you in San Jose!
Damaging across-the-board cuts will go into effect at midnight today, March 1, forcing WIC and a host of other federal programs to begin the process of curtailing services over the next few months, beginning as early as April.
Advocates hold out some hope that a balanced debt reduction deal preventing WIC cuts could still be made by March 27, the expiration date of the current Continuing Resolution and our next “fiscal cliff.”
What Will Happen to WIC?
Given the unprecedented nature of sequestration, it is not yet clear how WIC cuts will be handled by USDA and state WIC Agencies. The National WIC Association answers some questions about how the sequester could play out, and a recent Center on Budget & Policy analysis underscores how difficult and damaging it will be for WIC families, providers and the public’s health. A series of phone calls hosted by NWA provided further funding and timing details, and urged state and local directors “to refrain from any actions to limit access” or reduce caseloads through March 31, and to contact USDA regional staff before taking any action.
What Can I Do?
- CWA joins NWA in urging all WIC supporters to contact your member of Congress and urge him/her to protect WIC from these unconscionable and harmful funding cuts.
- Answer inquiries and requests for interviews and site visits from local print and electronic media, and educate them about WIC’s important role in improving nutrition, contributing to local economies, and the irreparable harm caused by cuts. In California alone, 100,300 moms and kids would lose benefits and over 1,000 WIC jobs are on the line.
- Urge your local business and community partners to sign on to the WE NEED WIC Statement posted on our website.
- It will take you less than five minutes to be a voice for WIC! Use your personal time and personal communications tools to urge Congress to fix this mess and reverse these harmful WIC cuts. Please do it today!
Read more »
We had a busy and successful year working to protect and strengthen the California WIC Program and local agency efforts to help build healthier communities! Thanks to our members, corporate sponsors and fans for your financial underwriting, dues and donations. Our program and policy work is also generously supported by the California Department of Public Health Obesity Prevention Program, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefits, The California Endowment, DHHS Office of Women’s Health, CDC, and Vitamin Cases Consumer Settlement Fund.
This Year’s Top Accomplishments:
- Over 60,000 personal stories and pictures from WIC participants, captured on paper plates and videos, were collected in late 2011 as part of CWA’s WE NEED WIC grassroots campaign. These plates were delivered to Congressional district offices and the White House in January, and again at the nation’s Capitol by a feisty group of California WIC Ambassadors in March. Despite earlier House proposals to cut WIC caseloads and eliminate Breastfeeding Peer Counseling funds, a Continuing Resolution passed in July maintained program funding until March 2013. The fiscal cliff looms, but we’ve laid some excellent protective groundwork!
- CWA and CBC teamed up with Altarum and Every Mother on an exciting national project to document and promote lactation support for hourly wage workers, especially those in low-wage jobs, funded by the Office of Women’s Health, DHHS. A website will go live next year!
- Our “Quick and Easy” WIC Works Webinar series on Baby Behaviors, Breastfeeding, Worksite Wellness, and other hot topics attracted hundreds of listeners from around the nation – even the world. Lots of people are still watching them online!
- Six new local WIC agencies became accredited Well WIC Worksites: Watts Healthcare, Marin, Alameda, and Madera Counties, Tiburcio Vasquez, and LA Biomed WIC, bringing our total number to 31 local agencies with healthier work environments!
Read more »
The California WIC caseload is dropping, and that is as it should be. Like CalFresh (food stamps), the WIC program responds to economic changes, with participation expanding during economic downturns and contracting when the economy recovers and circumstances improve for WIC families.
California’s recovery from the Great Recession has been far slower than the rest of the country, with only two of five of the 1.4 million jobs lost in the crash coming back so far. Chronic unemployment and underemployment have driven poverty rates to record levels, endangering a generation of children: over 2 million California children – one out of four – were living in poverty in 2010. In fact, by a new, more sensitive federal poverty measure, California has the worst poverty in the nation. All of this may explain why demand for WIC services in California has been fairly strong over the last few years of the so-called “recovery,” while we hear from other states that their caseloads dropped a long time ago.
One result of economic distress is a decline in the birth rate -- when you’re out of work and running out of money, having a baby doesn’t make much sense.
Any WIC nutritionist knows that encouraging the consumption of plain old fresh water, instead of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverage, is a critical health and obesity prevention strategy.
Last year, California WIC’s wonderful Rethink Your Drink campaign brought the water message home to WIC families, many of whom committed to reducing soda intake in favor of water.
But for many families, particularly in rural California, getting untainted drinking and tap water is still as difficult as it is in developing countries. A recent New York Times article highlighted the plight of farmworker communities in Tulare and Fresno Counties, whose water supplies have been contaminated by decades of farm fertilizer, with up to one-fifth of the small public systems carrying unsafe levels of nitrate. Another recent survey, by Project Lean and the California Department of Education, revealed that over 40 per cent of California public schools were not providing access to free water during mealtimes, a situation which should be remedied by SB 1413 (Leno) signed in 2010.
Last year, CWA supported AB 685 (Eng), which declared as state policy that every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes, affirming the UN resolution passed in 2010.
Want to get involved in local drinking water issues? Contact the amazing folks at Community Water Center or Food & Water Watch, or check in with CFPA’s Water in Schools campaign. Every WIC center should provide a free and safe source of tap water for employees and participants. Make a commitment to “Take Back the Tap!”
A month from now, the watershed November elections will decide not only the long-term future of the WIC Program, but a great deal else: the direction of the economy, the fate of the middle class, and the future of California. CWA is participating in a campaign called Vote With Your Mission to keep you informed and engaged in our great democracy.
Take these steps to get inspired, get informed and then rock your vote!
- Start with this sensational music video from Let One Voice Emerge and make sure you register to vote by October 22 – you can register online.
- Help CWA make WIC an election year issue with our WE NEED WIC Electoral Campaign. Ask all candidates for Congressional office where they stand on two key WIC policy issues!
- Bookmark the League of Women Voters (LWV) of California Education Fund webpage. Their Easy Voter Guide is a handy educational tool for new and busy voters. It’s available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean!
- What’s on your local ballot? Go to www.smartvoter.org, type in your address, and get your polling place and the list of races on your ballot, along with links to candidate statements and summaries of propositions.
- CWA supports Proposition 30 which is an opportunity to increase state revenues at a time when budget cuts have targeted safety net programs that are critical to low-income Californians. Read straightforward, nonpartisan analysis of all the ballot measures on LWV’s Pros & Cons page.