Harrisburg— December 12, 2023 — Today, Senate Bill 721 passed the Pennsylvania Senate by a of vote of 50-0. The bill aims to establish a permanent Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) advisory board in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Since its inception in 1974, the Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC has played a crucial role in enhancing the nutrition and health of families across the commonwealth. It provides access to healthy foods, nutrition services, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care and social services. WIC is fully funded by the federal government.
WIC participation has experienced a steady decline in Pennsylvania. To address this concern, state Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) sponsored legislation to create an advisory board. The primary objective of this board is to increase WIC participation and ensure that more Pennsylvanians are aware of the programs offered. The proposed advisory board will include representatives from regional WIC agencies, agency partners, advocates, grocers, health care providers and other relevant stakeholders.
“WIC has the power to help thousands of Pennsylvania families without costing the commonwealth a dime,” Schwank said. “However, we’ve seen enrollment dip. It’s clear that there is a need for the services offered by WIC in my district, as well as communities all over the commonwealth. We need to explore ways to boost enrollment and make sure every Pennsylvanian who can benefit from WIC has access to these important services.”
In 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Health created the Women, Infants and Children Advisory Group, similar to what Senate Bill 721 would create. Passing the bill would enshrine an advisory board into law, meaning a future administration couldn’t dissolve the board.