FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara McGovern, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-640-1089
Baltimore, Md. – May 19, 2014 –Advocates and anti-hunger organizations from across the state of Maryland joined together this week to urge Congress not to undermine nutrition standards for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
These Maryland organizations are sending their letter of opposition to Senator Barbara Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, urging her to reaffirm the long-standing Congressional commitment to rely on science, through the Institute of Medicine, to make recommendations for the foods to be included in the WIC food package.
“WIC is among the most successful nutrition programs because it targets the nutritional needs of low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children through access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “The decision of what foods will adequately address nutritional deficiencies should be based in science, not politics, and should be left up to our nation’s leading nutrition experts, not Washington lobbyists.”
WIC provides low-income women and their children monthly food packages to purchase nutritious food, including fresh fruit and vegetables. Nine million participants throughout the United States rely on WIC, including more than 140,000 participants in Maryland.
However, some in Congress are leading a charge to override the IOM recommendations and allow white potatoes in WIC food packages, despite research showing that white potatoes are well represented in low-income diets. In a statewide survey among Maryland WIC participants, 15 percent of 6- to 8-month olds and 24 percent of 9- to 12-month olds consumed white potatoes the previous day, making white potatoes the most frequently consumed vegetable among infants not receiving commercial baby foods.
Dr. Maureen Black with the University at the Maryland School of Medicine, one of the study’s authors, states: “Women and children enrolled in WIC are among the nation’s most vulnerable,” said Dr. Maureen Black, one of the study’s authors. “Their health should not be jeopardized by politics.”
“Access to affordable nutritious food should be a right for all residents of Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland, but food and health inequities prove otherwise,” said Sydney Daigle, Program Coordinator of the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council. “WIC is essential in closing the gap by addressing the economic and environmental barriers many of our citizens face in purchasing nutrient-dense fresh fruits and vegetables.”
The letter urges Congress to rely on the expert recommendations of USDA and the IOM when considering changes to the WIC food program. It notes that changing the program for political, not nutritional reasons puts special interest above the health of low-income mothers and children.
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