Budget 101: Hunger: How Sequestration Hurts Women and Children

July 29, 2013

This post is part of AAUW’s Budget 101 blog series, where we explore sequestration and the federal budget and how they affect Americans’ lives and AAUW priorities.

This summer, the youngest and most vulnerable Americans are feeling the pinch of the federal government tightening its purse strings.

Food pantries and community organizations that provide meals to low-income families are losing funding and staff in light of federal spending cuts. Some pantries, like one in Murray, Utah, have been forced to close indefinitely. Many food banks and organizations qualified for federal assistance under the Summer Food Service Program, which helps feed students who are under 18 when they are not in school. The government cut funding to the program under the Budget Control Act, which also laid the groundwork for the “fiscal cliff” and sequestration. Sequestration blindly cuts government programs across the board, meaning that millions are now struggling to access these critical programs.

Programs for women and infants will also be affected. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program that provides low-income mothers with access to food, health care referrals, and health education, is one of the many programs subject to sequester cuts. According to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report, WIC participation “contributes to healthier births, higher intake of key nutrients, less consumption of sugar and fats, and a stronger connection to preventative health care” — building healthy families across the nation.

A young girl stands in line in front of a tray of food.

Community residents receive free food from St. Bernard Mustard Seed Food Pantry, Louisiana. Photo by Billy Brown, Flickr.

However, the CBPP has found that WIC will lose as much as $1 billion in federal funding this fiscal year. State and local governments contribute to WIC programs, but some have needed to reduce staff and service hours because of their reduced budgets. This hurts working women who depend on access to WIC services during evenings and weekends. With the reduced office hours, women may have to choose between missing work and having food to eat.

For decades, AAUW has advocated for the right of every working woman to provide for her family. We believe children should be provided with nutritious meals that will allow them to grow into the world’s next leaders. We cannot and must not ignore the millions of women and children who will be without meals because of the damaging effects of sequestration.

AAUW is a nonpartisan organization, but we’re also multi-partisan, representing a variety of political affiliations and viewpoints. Despite our differences, AAUW members come together to get things done and serve our communities. Congress should do the same. AAUW members will continue to press Congress to support budget policies that further the principles of fairness and fiscal responsibility and protect women and their families.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy and Government Relations Intern Seaira Christian-Daniels.

By:   |   July 29, 2013

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