WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), alongside Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), introduced bipartisan legislation to streamline access to WIC benefits. The MODERN WIC Act would allow individuals to remotely certify their eligibility for WIC benefits. A Senate companion bill has been introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS).

“The WIC program is a crucial source of nutrition for low-income women, nursing mothers, infants, and children, and one of the most successful and impactful initiatives that the federal government operates,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to lead this bipartisan, bicameral MODERN WIC Act alongside Representative Bonamici (D-OR) to provide remote services options for WIC applicants and participants. Streamlining this process will allow more families to receive and utilize benefits and ensure all of our children have a healthy start to life.”

“The WIC program helps families at a critical time in their lives,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “The MODERN WIC Act will make commonsense technology updates to this essential program so it will better meet the needs of families today and make benefits more accessible. I’m pleased to lead this important bipartisan legislation with my colleague Congressman Fitzpatrick and look forward to seeing it benefit children and families in Oregon and across the country.”

The MODERN WIC Act is endorsed by the National WIC Association, 1,000 Days, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Heart Association, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Association of State Public Health Nutritionists, March of Dimes, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, National Association of Counties, Save the Children, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

"The MODERN WIC Act represents a significant advancement in the WIC program by modernizing its administration and enhancing its ability to adapt and provide services to families with increasingly busy schedules. The implementation of remote services has already led to a 12% increase in child participation, reversing a decline that had been ongoing for years,” said Dr. Jamila Taylor, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA).“The act aims to improve access to WIC services and boost participation rates further by removing persistent obstacles to child retention. This will be achieved by introducing remote certifications and benefit issuance, which will make it more convenient for families to engage with the program, similar to the experience of participants in healthcare facilities. The National WIC Association commends Representatives Fitzpatrick and Bonamici for their leadership on this critical legislation and urges Congress to pass the bill expeditiously."

“The flexibilities in WIC service delivery utilized during the pandemic have proven to be effective methods for improving access to WIC for Pennsylvania families.  The ability to serve participants remotely reduces barriers and allows more families to enroll and stay connected with WIC, even if they are not able to attend every visit in person due to transportation, child care, and work related challenges.  WIC families and the organizations that provide WIC across Pennsylvania have come to rely on these flexibilities,” said Shannon Hayward, President, Pennsylvania WIC Association (PWA). “The Pennsylvania WIC Associations supports the MODERN WIC Act and a permanent remote certification option to keep more families connected to WIC and maintain consistent access to healthy food, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support for Pennsylvania families.”

“The COVID pandemic forced WIC to offer services in ways that have never been tried before. Although it was stressful to put policies and practices in place quickly to meet participants’ needs in the face of a global pandemic, it showed us that WIC can be successful while offering services in alternative ways,” said Tiare T Sanna MS, RDN, State WIC Director for Oregon. “Although some feared that nutrition education couldn’t be as rich in a remote environment, I heard many stories from our local agencies of parents who could really focus and participate in the discussion when they were not trying to wrangle toddlers in an office setting. It was also a bonus to our working families, who could easily complete a visit during their lunch hour, eliminating the need to choose between losing wages or attending a WIC appointment. The ability to continue to offer flexibility, while maintaining the success of the program is vital for the WIC to move into the future and serve young families and the caregivers of young children.”

Read the text of the bill HERE.