HB 506 — Maryland Department of Health – Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - Reports

Committee: House Appropriations

Position: Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

House Bill 506 requires the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to submit an annual report on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to specified committees of the General Assembly. The report must include by jurisdiction, the number of women, infants, and children receiving WIC as well as the number of those eligible but not receiving WIC. Recommendations for expanding enrollment and changes to program policies and procedures are also required within the report.

A 2018 report from MDH shows that “28.3 percent of all women, infants, and children who were potentially eligible for WIC were not receiving benefits in fiscal year 2018.” House Bill 506 would allow a deeper analysis of possible contributing factors to the decline in participation in the hopes of addressing those factors and work towards expanding access to eligible families in need.

Unfortunately, far too many Marylanders face a lack of healthy resources for themselves and their families. Programs such as WIC go a long way in assisting those in need by safeguarding the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk; providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care. WIC participation has been shown to provide wide ranging benefits. They include longer, safer pregnancies, longer gestation periods, higher birth weights and lower infant mortality. Additional benefits may also include improved dietary outcomes for infants and children, improved maternal health, and improved performance at school, among others.

The Conference supports programs that address the needs of our most vulnerable populations and promote healthy families. For these reasons, the Conference urges a favorable report on House Bill 506.