Everyone Benefits from WIC CVB Increase

WIC is a USDA-funded program that provides healthy foods to low-income pregnant and postpartum people, infants, and children up to age 5. WIC reaches nearly half of all infants born in the U.S. The WIC foods are loaded electronically onto a WIC benefits card with monthly amounts allocated for each food. Fruit and vegetable amounts are issued as a “Cash Value Benefit” (CVB) that can be used to buy any variety of fruit or vegetable.

In June 2021, the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act increased the WIC CVB amounts for all adults and children receiving WIC from $9 and $11 to $35 for four months. Congress extended the increased amounts at $24 for children and $43 or $47 for adults, depending on breastfeeding or chestfeeding status, through March 31, 2022.

A study of over 1600 WIC families in Southern California showed that it is essential to the health of WIC families and communities all around to keep this increase in place. Nearly all participants found the prior amount of $9 for children to not be enough. However, more than three-quarters of the participants reported that the increased amount of $35 is ‘just right.’

(NPI & PHFE WIC, 2021)

PHFE WIC is the largest Local Agency WIC program in the country, serving over 180,000 participants. Families served by PHFE WIC spent $10.6M more on fruits and vegetables with their increased CVB amounts from June to September 2021 compared to the same period of months in 2020.

(NPI & PHFE WIC, 2021)

This translates to an increase of over $50M across the state of California in WIC purchases of fruit and vegetables during the four months. This increased spending creates a domino effect of benefits that goes beyond just WIC families. Not only does it benefit WIC families and their communities, but also the communities where produce is grown and sold.

The increased amounts of fruit and vegetables help WIC families and benefit every low-income community in each state across the entire country. Congress must act to continue this increase beyond March 2022.


Adapted from Nutrition Policy Institute & PHFE WIC (2021). More Veggies and Fruit for WIC families is a WIC for California and the Nation. LA WIC Data. https://lawicdata.org/2021/12/more-veggies-and-fruits-for-wic-families-is-a-win-for-california-and-the-nation/.

Senators Introduce MODERN WIC Act

On November 23rd, 2021, a bipartisan bill called More Options to Develop and Enhance Remote Nutrition in WIC Act, or MODERN WIC Act, was introduced. This bill would make permanent revisions to WIC certification requirements, sustaining the flexibilities that helped families gain access to the program during the pandemic.

For social distancing purposes during the pandemic, WIC agencies were allowed to complete certifications over the phone, and the requirement for WIC providers to measure a participant’s weight and height was waived. These flexibilities helped many WIC program participants and new applicants overcome the barriers to WIC services that in-person requirements can create.

Barriers to completing in-person certifications include

Taking Time off Work

Arranging Transportation or Childcare

Wait Times at WIC Offices

Child participation has increased 20% at PHFE WIC, and 8% nationwide since March 2020, showing how important virtual WIC services were during the pandemic.1 The MODERN WIC Act will continue virtual services, expanding access to families who qualify.

The Modern WIC Act proposes the following:

WIC program applications to be completed over video conferencing or telephone with health assessment data submitted to WIC within 90 days

Food benefits to be remotely added to participant WIC EBT cards

More investment in WIC technology to help with online appointments and education

The MODERN WIC Act will allow WIC providers to continue as they always have: to help families access healthy foods.

Read NWA’s full press statement here, and click here to view a fact sheet on physical presence at WIC.


References

  1. Senators Introduce MODERN WIC Act, Bipartisan Fix for Physical Presence. National WIC Association. https://www.nwica.org/press-releases/sens-gillibrand-marshall-introduce-bipartisan-bill-to-strengthen-remote-wic-services#.YbJPA1XMJpg. November 23, 2021.
  2. Striking The Balance: Unlocking Remote WIC Services after COVID-19. National WIC Association. https://s3.amazonaws.com/aws.upl/nwica.org/physical-presence.pdf?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=003395f0-195e-4759-bb52-cc294f90a17f. October 2021. Accessed December 6, 2021.   

Speak Up When You’re Down

6 THINGS EVERY NEW MOM & MOM-TO-BE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
PERINATAL DEPRESSION

1.  Perinatal depression is common.

It is, in fact, the number one complication of pregnancy.  In the US, 15% to 20% of new moms, or about 1 million women each year experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and some studies suggest that number may be even higher.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Perinatal depression can affect any woman regardless of age, income, culture or education.

2.  You may experience some of these symptoms

  • Feelings of sadness.
  • Mood swings: highs and lows, feeling overwhelmed.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy.
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits.
  • Panic attacks, nervousness, and anxiety.
  • Excessive worry about your baby.
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
  • Fearing that you can’t take care of your baby.
  • Feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
  • Difficulty accepting motherhood.
  • Irrational thinking; seeing or hearing things that are not there.

Some of the ways women describe their feelings include:


I want to cry all the time.
I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster.
I will never feel like myself again.
I don’t think my baby likes me.
Everything feels like an effort.

3.  Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy, and up to the child’s first year.

Baby blues, a normal adjustment period after birth, usually lasts from 2 to 3 weeks.  If you have any of the listed symptoms, they have stayed the same or gotten worse, and you’re 5 to 6 weeks postpartum, then you are no longer experiencing baby blues, and may have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder.

4.  You did nothing to cause this.

You are not a weak or bad person.  You have a common, treatable illness.  Research shows there are a variety of risk factors that may impact how you are feeling, including your medical history, how your body processes certain hormones, the level of stress you are experiencing, and how much help you have with your baby.  What we do know is, this is not your fault.

5.  The sooner you get treatment, the better.

Recent studies show that your baby’s well-being and development are directly tied to your physical and emotional health.  You deserve to be healthy, and your baby needs a healthy mom in order to thrive.  Don’t wait to reach out for HELP.  It is available.

6.  There is help for you.

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she needs help.  NOW is the time to reach out to a caring professional, who is knowledgeable about perinatal depression, and who can help you through this time of crisis.  He or she can understand the pain you are experiencing and guide you on the road to recovery.  Contact Postpartum Support International, 1.800.944.4773 or www.postpartum.net, for referrals and support near you


LOS ANGELES COUNTY PERINATAL MENTAL HEALTH TASK FORCE
www.maternalmentalhealthnow.org

For referrals and resources, call 211 or 1.800.944.4773 | www.postpartum.net
or contact your healthcare provider


Adapted from Speak up when you’re down