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House Bill 7: The Vehicle for Modernizing WIC

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

By: Kezia Ofosu Atta, Policy Assistant, Groundwork Ohio

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House Bill 7 was introduced by Representative Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Representative Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) in February 2023 to support strong foundations for Ohio’s mothers and babies in their first 1,000 days to address maternal and infant mortality and to improve the health and learning outcomes for babies and mothers. The bill comes with extensive wrap-around services that will cater to the welfare of mothers and babies across the state. Within this bill lies a provision encouraging the Ohio Department of Health to consider expanding access to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, by permitting the use of telephone and video calls to complete enrollment to solve transportation issues associated with in-person appointments currently required for WIC renewals.

According to a recent factsheet released by Groundwork Ohio, only 34.2% of eligible Ohio children ages 1-4 received WIC benefits in 2019. If accessibility difficulties due to transportation issues and work schedule limitations can be curbed through modernization efforts, the program can positively affect the lives of more families.

“Ohio is one of just nine offline states requiring WIC beneficiaries to either mail or present their EBT cards at their local WIC office every three months just to get their benefits loaded,” said Hope Lane-Gavin, Director of Nutrition Policy and Programs, Ohio Association of Food Banks, in testimony on HB 7 given to the Ohio House Families and Aging Committee. “[This inconvenience] caused Ohio’s WIC enrollment to decline in a way not seen in any other safety-net program [during the COVID-19 pandemic].”

In a time like the pandemic when people desperately needed these services, Ohio’s WIC enrollment dropped by 16 percent, according to research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2021. This reflects the effect of WIC’s accessibility issues on Ohio’s population.

More than 100,000 Ohioans rely on WIC for nutrition assistance, but the lack of modernization adds unnecessary roadblocks to providing these critical services.

Christina Hutton, a mother based in Piqua, Ohio, stated that “after the WIC office in my city closed, families had to travel [miles away] to Troy to renew their WIC EBT cards.”

The lack of a modernized system makes it difficult for families in similar situations as Christina to access needed supplemental nutritional and health resources. Lori Jarvis, a mother based in Amelia, Ohio, which is located 20 minutes outside of Claremont County, also noted that after she missed a WIC appointment due to an illness, her family had to go almost three months without WIC because the closest office to her was booked several months out. Requiring in-person appointments at offices not always conveniently located to the users makes it difficult for easy WIC renewals.

Learn more about making WIC More accessible for eligible Ohioans.

Groundwork Ohio’s factsheet highlights the importance of WIC in investing in long-term support for women, infants, and children. It emphasizes how the lack of modernization affects accessibility and adds unnecessary roadblocks to providing these services. The factsheet also outlines several provisions by which Ohio legislators can make WIC more accessible.

  • Piloting the WIC telehealth format,

  • Allowing WIC benefits to be added to the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card automatically,

  • Creating a central WIC website to consolidate information for all 88 counties, and

  • Providing a comprehensive resource for eligible families.

The future of WIC meeting the needs of Ohioans is promising if calls for its modernization are implemented.

The passage of House Bill 7 will be pivotal in ensuring secure access to food and medical services for many families with low incomes across the state. Many of these individuals in neighborhoods with high poverty have multiple jobs and lack the flexibility to balance working to provide for their families with joining long lines every three months to re-enroll in the program. It is time for Ohio to join the 41 states that have transitioned their WIC system to be more modernized and ease accessibility burdens on families. As one of the states that has taken a pro-life stance, it is time for its legislators to follow through with enacting laws that will sustain the lives of its children and mothers.

House Bill 7 is currently in the Finance Committee after it passed through the Rules and Reference Committee awaiting to be hopefully introduced in the fall for a House floor vote. Once it passes in the House, it will go through the same legislative committee process in the Senate to be introduced on the Senate floor for votes.

Now is the time to contact your representatives and remind them of this important bill.


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