WASHINGTON, DC – According to a new report from ParentsTogether Action, a family advocacy group with more than 3 million economically and politically-diverse members, found that parents and families across the US are struggling to afford food amid rising prices and reduced nutrition assistance. The survey comes as Republicans in Congress have laid out plans to make significant cuts to WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) programs as part of their debt ceiling deal. Estimates forecast that budget cuts advocated for by House Republicans would result in as many as 1.7 million women, infants and children losing food, formula, and breastfeeding assistance under WIC.
Between May 17-18, 2023, ParentsTogether Action surveyed almost 500 primarily low-and-middle income families, specifically investigating how parents who relied on WIC nutritional assistance benefits are faring and the role that the benefits play in helping them afford enough food to feed themselves and their children. The survey revealed that:
• 64% of WIC recipients would have been unable to afford necessary formula to feed their infants without the program;
• 52% of WIC recipients would have been unable to afford enough food for themselves;
• 75% of WIC recipients said the program helped them afford nutritious foods that they would not have otherwise been able to purchase;
• 35% of WIC recipients said they would not have had the breastfeeding support necessary to breastfeed their children.
“Republicans’ proposed budget illustrates just how far they’re willing to go to protect billionaires and corporations. Their cruel plan to take WIC away from 1.7 million pregnant or postpartum parents and their babies - leaving countless infants without the formula they need to survive and taking away nutritious food from breastfeeding mothers – is not going unnoticed,” said Ailen Arreaza, Executive Director of ParentsTogether. “Republicans are holding parents, children, and grandparents hostage by threatening to default on our debt if they don’t get the budget cuts they’re demanding. It’s already hard enough for parents to make ends meet and now they’re being put at the center of these dangerous political games. Make no mistake – this strategy will backfire.”
The May member survey also found that:
• Parents said that their biggest challenges were affording food (64%), paying for essential supplies like diapers, formula, and period products (54%), paying utilities (54%) or housing (44%).
• The combination of lost benefits and rising prices has meant that 70% of parents report they can no longer save for the future, 64% have had to spend savings or other money saved for emergencies, and 42% can no longer afford enough food for their families.
• According to the survey, food prices, coupled with decreased benefits, are driving increased food insecurity. • Large percentages of parents say they have had to either buy less expensive food (e.g. fewer fruits or vegetables) (67%) or switch food brands (63%). Almost half of those surveyed said they have had to use food banks and similar services (49%) and 37% reported having skipped meals so that their children can eat.