For the first time in several years, thousands of low-income women, infants and children who are at nutritional risk may be turned away from the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC is regarded as one of the most effective federal programs. It reduces low birth weights, child anemia, and significantly improves children’s diets. The House Appropriations Committee adopted the Bush Administration’s WIC budget request of $4.137 billion for the fiscal year 2002, which may be inadequate due to rising unemployment rates and a resulting increase in needy recipients.
The 2002 budget will support 7,245,000 WIC participants, identical to the number of estimated participants for 2001. The estimated figures, however, are outdated and significantly underestimate expected participation for the current fiscal year. If unemployment rates continue to rise, the funding provided by the bill could force states to cut WIC caseloads in FY 2002 and consequently turn away over 100,000 women and children.