Nutrition First’s Executive Director, Kristen Rezabek attended the National WIC Association Leadership Conference in early March and spent time on the Hill asking Washington Legislators to support the President’s proposed budget of $7 Billion for the WIC program including $60 million in funds for the Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program and $30 million for Management Information Systems (MIS)/ and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) funds to meet the 2020 mandate of all WIC checks moving to electronic benefits. WIC supports 9.2 million participants and serves 53% of infants born in the US. It is the premier preventative public health nutrition program saving an estimated $4.21 in Medicaid costs for every $1 dollar spent by reducing preterm births and low birth weight babies. WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, medical and social services referrals and nutritious foods for low income women, infants and children.
A recent national survey of 1,000 likely voters found a 69% favorable view of the WIC program and nearly two-thirds opposed cuts to WIC with strong bipartisan support of this program. WIC has also been a leader in promotion of breastfeeding with initiation rates of 63% of WIC mothers nationwide compared to 41% in 1998. Increasing rates of breastfeeding would save an estimated $13 billion per year if 90% of US infants were breastfed exclusively for the first six months. The NWA Leadership conference was an excellent educational and advocacy event including a White House briefing and sessions with Undersecretary of the USDA Kevin Concannon, Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Congressional Representatives to name a few. Nutrition First highly encourages our members to attend this conference in 2013 and to remember there are scholarship opportunities available for individual members.