Scripps News LifeFood and Drink


Federal food-aid cuts loom for millions of low-income Americans

Government funding expires at the end of this month for a program that provides subsidies to Americans so they can afford fruits and vegetables.
Posted at 2:14 PM, Sep 11, 2023

This September there is a fight over a little-known government assistance program that helps lower-income Americans purchase fruits and vegetables. Come this time next month there is a real chance that the program will be drastically cut.

WIC stands for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Over 6 million people benefit from it. But at the end of this month, the subsidy could be a causality of Democrats and Republicans disagreeing on how much money government programs should get, especially programs that saw increases during the pandemic emergency, which has now been declared over.

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Eric Mitchell is the executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger. His concern is that major cuts to WIC could negatively impact the nutrition of low-income Americans.

"That fruits and veggies bump [during the pandemic emergency] was able to allow families to purchase up to $50 worth of fruits and vegetables," Mitchell told Scripps News. "If that funding gets cut, that would automatically go down to $11."

Those are monthly amounts and figures that Mitchell says don't get you much at the grocery store.

Democrats have suggested the program get around $6.3 billion, but the Republican-led House has proposed it receive $5.5 billion. Both the House and Senate are back in Washington this week for the first time in weeks and Mitchell hopes it's an issue that can be resolved quickly because, to him, both proposals are too low.

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Students grabbing lunch at school

Schools helping low-income families with lunch without federal aid

Many parents are reliant on one of the federal free or reduced meal programs, but only if their district opts in.


"This is a program that is already facing a billion-dollar shortfall," Mitchell said.

Scripps News Kansas City recently chatted with one grandmother who said if it wasn't for pantry donations, her family would be faced with drastic cuts.

"We would probably be eating one meal a day," said Candy Laughlin. "You just want to do the best for your kids."