La Raza sent out an email blast this week to supporters urging them to demand that their local lawmakers “Save our babies! Stop extreme cuts to the WIC program.”
The La Raza email blast pointed out that, “nearly nine out of ten Latino infants born in the United States participated in WIC in 2008. This program has been especially important for Hispanic expectant mothers, who are less likely to have access to prenatal care and medical information,” according to Jennifer Ng'andu, Deputy Director, Health Policy Project for La Raza.
With the economic health of the country at risk and states’ drowning in red ink, many lawmakers have turned to popular programs as a way to solve their budget shortfalls.
The “food and nutrition” WIC program began in 1972 and was made permanent in 1974, by Republican President Richard Nixon. The WIC program is administered by the federal government through the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The WIC program provides food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services to low-income women, infants and children. However, it is the ever-increasing Latino population in the U.S. that relies heavily on the government subsidy.
“The Latino community’s access to WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children, is under immediate threat,” Ng'andu said. “The House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee has voted to cut WIC funding by nearly $650 million, which will result in up to 350,000 mothers, infants, and children falling off the program. Given that Latinos make up (42 percent) of all program participants, the Hispanic community is expected to be among the hardest hit.”
Ng'andu continues to say that, “WIC has been an essential nutrition assistance program for Latinos and has long been proven to prevent many of the costly conditions that result from hunger and malnutrition.”
The National Council of La Raza contends that Hispanic families were the hungriest families in 2008, and say Latino children make up nearly 40 percent of all children living with hunger. “The last thing we need is to take food out of the mouths of vulnerable mothers, babies, and young children,” Ng'andu said.
Currently, many State WIC programs hand out vouchers to participants that they can use at approximately 46,000 authorized food stores nationwide.
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