Unemployment benefits have been an important safety net for many people who have lost their jobs due to the impacts of COVID-19. As the pandemic unemployment benefit extension ends, millions of people will lose their unemployment benefits on September 6, 2021. This mass loss of unemployment benefits may potentially increase the number of families living with food insecurity, which is projected to reach a startling 12.9% of (or 42 million) adults and children living in the U.S., according to Feeding America.
Fortunately, the WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) program has not only maintained but increased benefits for all who qualify for the program through WIC’s Cash Value Benefit Increase. Due to the American Rescue Plan, each WIC participant 12 months and older receives an additional $35 for fruits and vegetables from June to September 30, 2021. Should this additional benefit end as scheduled WIC will continue to provide regular assistance to those who qualify. Learn how you can support the #ExtendTheWICBumpCampaign to ensure this benefit increase continues beyond September 30.
Kiran Saluja, executive director of Heluna Health’s PHFE WIC program, participated in a panel on July 29, 2021, hosted by Ethnic Media Services, alongside other government officials and leaders who represent local programs working to improve food access for communities in need of support. The panelists also discussed the recent relaxing of public-charge restrictions, which was a wavering policy under the Trump administration that caused many members of immigrant communities to shy away from accessing the food assistance and government support they are entitled to. Read a recap of the panel event and access the recording here.
As extended unemployment benefits are set to end, Heluna Health and PHFE WIC, the largest WIC agency in the country, are more determined than ever to help as many families as possible avoid food insecurity.
There has never been a better time to help families apply for WIC and connect them to healthy food. Applying for WIC benefits is easy and can be done 100% by phone. Families in Southern California can text APPLY to 91997 or visit phfewic.org/apply. Families outside of this region can find their local WIC program here.