International Fresh Produce Association Members Rally to Preserve WIC Produce Benefits; Cathy Burns and Mollie Van Lieu Comment
WASHINGTON, DC - For the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), nutrition and industry advocacy remain crucial tenets of its mission. Recently, in its efforts to oppose a bill that would strip fruit and vegetable Cash Value Benefits (CVB) from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), over 70 allied associations and IFPA members joined with the organization in a sign-on letter.
“Plain and simple, the WIC fruit and vegetable benefit is a success story. Though nine out of 10 Americans don’t meet federal dietary recommendations, and nearly one-half of young children do not eat a daily vegetable, children participating in WIC consume two cups of fruits and vegetables per day,” said IFPA Chief Executive Officer Cathy Burns. “We cannot turn our backs on this progress and the children who rely on this important benefit, which infuses needed resources that improve access to healthy fruits and vegetables throughout every community in this country.”
The letter was sent to Capitol Hill before the House Appropriations Committee voted on the bill on June 14, and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee voted on June 22, a release outlined. IFPA also joined as a signatory with the National WIC Association, American Public Health Association, and the National Grocers Association on a statement supporting WIC’s fruit and vegetable benefits.
Both bills differed significantly, with the House FY24 funding bill including a 56 percent reduction in the fruit and vegetable benefits for children and a 70 percent drop for women. Under the House bill, children would receive $11 monthly for fruits and vegetables starting October 1, 2023.
On June 22, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee passed a funding bill that would retain the monthly allotment for the 5 million women and children at $44 and $24, respectively.
“Besides the obvious nutrition loss program participants would experience because of slashed WIC benefits, there is also an economic opportunity at stake for growers and supermarket operators,” said IFPA Vice President of Nutrition and Health Mollie Van Lieu. “When WIC participants utilize their current fruit and vegetable benefits, it translates into a sales lift of more than $1 billion and a wider variety of fresh produce being purchased. In fact, it was the industry that heavily advocated with public health advocates to establish the fruit and vegetable benefit in 2009—which is now widely recognized as one of the most successful and cost-effective nutrition intervention programs—in no small part due to the WIC fruit and vegetable benefit. We appreciate the ongoing commitment of members and allied associations to speak out about this important program.”
Congress will now need to reconcile the differences in the legislation before September 30.
To read more about IFPA’s efforts on this matter, click here.
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