CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, August 4, 2023


August 4, 2023

August 4, 2023  

The threat of hunger edition. Back in the 1970s, Sens. Robert Dole (R-KS) and George McGovern (D-S.D.) worked together to advance the cause of nutrition assistance for low-income Americans. First, they cosponsored a bill that comprehensively reformed and improved food stamps. Then they came together again to help create the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Finally, they stepped in to protect and expand the National School Lunch Program. 

There were two key takeaways from the Senators’ works. First, and most obvious, the federal government has an important role to play in fighting hunger. And second, such efforts can and should be bipartisan. Hunger is not an issue that affects one political party and the solutions for ending hunger likewise should not rest solely on one side of the aisle. 

Sadly, such bipartisan comity largely has evaporated, at least when it comes to the House side of Congress. Right-wingers already have pushed through a measure that will result in people losing SNAP benefits. Now they have turned their sights on WIC, which serves more than 6 million infants, young children and mothers each year. 

As you will see when you scroll down, the House GOP is proposing massive cuts to WIC, “potentially forcing eligible children and new moms onto waiting lists for the first time in nearly 30 years,” according to First Focus on Children. “The House proposal also slashed funding for WIC’s enormously successful fruit and vegetable benefit, reducing access to fruits and vegetables by 56 percent for children and approximately 70 percent for pregnant women and new moms – marking the first time in the program’s nearly 50-year history that Congress has suggested cutting WIC benefits for families in order to defray program costs.” 

If one wonders why former Sens. Dole and McGovern would be turning in their graves right now, one need only turn to a recent research paper produced by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. CBPP writes that WIC participation “is linked to significant benefits for health, nutrition, and developmental outcomes.” 

“That includes fewer premature births, fewer infant deaths, improved diet quality, lower prevalence of food insecurity, higher rates of childhood immunization, better access to health care, and numerous other benefits,” CBPP states. “A funding shortfall would mean eligible low-income people would lose out on these benefits.”  

Call Congress. Tell your Representative: no cuts to WIC, no taking food away from moms and their babies and young children. Click here. 

Nearly $8 billion 

The House GOP agriculture spending bill provides funding of $17.8 billion for the next fiscal year. That’s nearly $8 billion below what was provided for the current year – plus it’s the lowest funding level since 2007. Tweet this.


$800 million 

The bill would cut WIC by $800 million for the next fiscal year. Tweet this.


$11 to $15 

Under the House GOP proposal, WIC participants would receive only $11 to $15 per month to purchase healthy produce, depending on whether they are young children, or new or breastfeeding moms. That’s a 56 to 70 percent cut compared to current levels. Tweet this.


4.6 million 

Under the House GOP proposal, 4.6 million children and pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding participants would see their WIC benefits slashed, and 650,000 to 750,000 eligible applicants or those already receiving benefits could be turned away altogether. Tweet this.




Fueled by pandemic-era funding, the share of federal spending on children rose from 7.5% in 2020 to 12.2% in 2021. But in 2023, it slid down to 9.8%. Tweet this.



According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, at-home food costs rose 10.2% from 2022 to 2023.


1 in 5 

An estimated 20% of the nation’s LGBTQ high school students – 371,000 young adults in all – experienced hunger in the month of May because there wasn’t enough food at home. Among Black LGBTQ students, the rate of hunger was 33%; among Latinos, 24%; among Asians, 29%. Among White LGBTQ youth, the rate was 14%.



Parents who received expanded Child Tax Credit payments in 2021 experienced less food insecurity than those who did not, according to an Urban Institute report. Rates of food insecurity dropped from 26.1% to 20% during the months that the payments went out.



A new study released by Parents Together Action found that 64% of WIC participants would have been unable to afford necessary formula to feed their infants without WIC. Another 52% would have been unable to feed themselves, and 75% said the program helped them afford nutritious foods that they would not have otherwise been able to purchase.


27 million 

According to the latest Census Bureau Household Pulse data (covering 6/28 – 7/10 of this year), 27 million people (12.1%) said their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous week – up from 17.6 million (8.2%) in August 2021. The rate was 17.1 percent for Hispanics, 20.7 percent for Blacks, and 15.3 percent for households with children.