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Snyder's request for WIC exceptions denied

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LANSING, Mich. – The federal government denied the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services request for supplemental nutrition funding for Flint children ages 5-10 years old.

MDHHS made a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday asking for an increase access and availability of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits and services to children between 5 and 10.

Normally, WIC benefits are only extended to children under the age of 5.

The request stated that MDHHS was seeking this exception in an effort to “fight lead with nutrition.”

Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) denied the request Friday saying the benefits could not be extended due to a federal statute governing WIC eligibility to children up to the age of 5. Changes to WIC eligibility would require Congressional action.

In the letter, FNS said they are “dedicated to supporting the nutrition of Flint’s older children through other existing federal programs which include the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.”

Gov. Rick Snyder released the following statement Saturday:

“I have strongly and continually stated that is it essential for all levels of government to work together to help Flint recover from this crisis, as it was all levels of government that failed Flint. While I understand WIC funding does not normally cover children over the age of 5, the improved health and developmental growth that will come from better nutrition for these kids necessitates a waiver of this rule. I strongly urge the federal government to reconsider this request and provide additional support for children ages 5 to 10. We must draw on all resources possible and work cooperatively to meet the needs of the residents of Flint, both immediate and long-term.”

MDHHS also request support for additional Lactation Consultants to further increase, promote and support breastfeeding education. FNS encouraged the state to work with the regional funding staff to review the anticipated need and funding level.