Sequestration Could Deny Nutrition Support to Up to 750,000 At-Risk Low-Income Women and Children

March 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Update April 11: The paper this post is based on has been updated and can be found here.

The Office of Management and Budget has now calculated how the “sequestration” budget cuts will affect WIC — the highly effective nutrition program that serves roughly 9 million low-income women and children — and here’s what we’ve learned:  575,000 to 750,000 eligible low-income women and children will be turned away by the end of the fiscal year if sequestration, which took effect on March 1, remains in place.  (Our new estimates of the numbers of women and children affected differ slightly from our earlier estimates because OMB has now calculated the exact percentage of the funding cut.)

Under sequestration, WIC faces a $333 million funding cut compared to the level provided under the Continuing Resolution that’s now in place — or $692 million less than the program received in fiscal year 2012.

Cuts of that magnitude would force states — which implement WIC under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s oversight — to make harsh choices about how to cut their caseloads.

Under one scenario, states might cut participation rapidly in April, May, and June — turning away all non-breastfeeding postpartum women and most children whose inadequate diets place them at nutritional risk (but who have not yet developed a medical condition), including many children who are only 1 year old.  Using this approach, many state WIC programs would achieve enough savings by June that they could begin to ease eligibility restrictions and maintain the June participation level in July, August, and September.  This would result in about 575,000 fewer participants nationally in the final months of the year than the average fiscal year 2012 participation level.

Alternatively, states could take a steady path of reducing the caseload by the same amount each month, turning away approximately 100,000 women and children monthly — including all non-breastfeeding postpartum women, many 2-year-olds, and all children aged 3 and 4 at nutritional risk due to an inadequate diet.  By September, the WIC caseload would be 750,000 less than the average caseload in fiscal year 2012.

Print Friendly

More About Zoë Neuberger

Zoë Neuberger

Neuberger, a Senior Policy Analyst, joined the Center in May 2001.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. DHFabian #

    Tragically, America’s middle class has consistently supported sacrificing the poor, assuming it would save the middle from being targeted. Everything pulled out of programs for the poor has merely gone into maintaining massive tax cuts for the rich (in other words, the middle class cut the poor off of welfare, and put the rich on welfare). What the middle class has been doing is the same thing as climbing up a tree, and sawing through the trunk below them.

Your Comment

Comment Policy:

Thank you for joining the conversation about important policy issues. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters and are subject to approval and moderation. We reserve the right to remove comments that:

  • are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate;
  • contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs;
  • solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites or to sell products or services;
  • may infringe the copyright or intellectual property rights of others or other applicable laws or regulations; or
  • are otherwise inconsistent with the goals of this blog.

Posted comments do not necessarily represent the views of the CBPP and do not constitute official endorsement by CBPP. Please note that comments will be approved during the Center's business hours. If you have questions, please contact

+ four = 13

 characters available