CWA Flash E-Newsletter - June 4, 2020
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Alcohol and Substance Abuse  
The stresses of the pandemic present different challenges for addressing alcohol and substance abuse and addiction. New resources have become available from the National Institute of Health and HHS with a free national hotline available 24/7 in English and Spanish for treatment referral and information. 
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Summer Activities and COVID-19  
It has been around two months of quarantine for many of us. The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But what's safe? Public health experts have weighed in on the safety of summer activities. 
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Standing Together 
Our country has an opportunity right now to acknowledge and put a stop to the horrific pain and death of Black men, women and children due to police brutality and systemic racism that is pervasive in our streets, neighborhoods and homes. History has provided many opportunities to undo the injustices and inequities, but we have fallen far short of where we need to be. The murder of George Floyd has spurred people to raise their voices, and is another pivotal moment where change is possible and critical. CWA stands in solidarity with the individuals, groups, and organizations around the country who protest and condemn institutional racism and police brutality and killings of Black people. For those of us in WIC our daily focus is on family. Our children's futures hinge on a society that is not racist and abusive. Their eyes should not be clouded by fear or grief but shine with excitement and possibilities. Young parents must see be able to dream and imagine a full life for their children and not be fearful that they or their child will be murdered by the police or struggle needlessly because they have been shut out of opportunities. Elders deserve to see in the time they have left, resolve of the oppression they have lived with their entire lives. We honor and support WIC staff who both work to support WIC families who experience racism and those who experience it themselves. Our work is cut out for us and we are all in.  
Take Action TODAY for WIC Waivers 
ACTION NEEDED TODAY by COB:After a "virtual" legislative visit with CWA and local agency staff last month and work with NWA, Congressman Josh Harder's office has sent out a "Dear Colleague" letter calling for the extension of the USDA Waivers for WIC. PLEASE call your members of Congress, ask to speak to (or for the email address of) the appropriate staff member for children's health and nutrition issues, and say something like: "Congressman Harder's office has sent out a Dear Colleague letter requesting an extension of the USDA waivers for WIC. Those waivers enable us to better serve WIC families safely and ensure they have access to WIC foods during the pandemic, and we'd like Representative _____ to sign on." Community partners can also sign this letter by June 8 to urge USDA to extent the waivers. Waivers granted by USDA have helped WIC agencies get food and support to families which was complicated by the pandemic. Needed flexibilities have allowed staff and participants to remain safe and work remotely by phone, email, text and videoconferencing and quickly get benefits out to families. Other waivers have allowed for more options in the food package. The waivers expire on June 30 and need to be extended at least to Sept. 30. WIC offices report huge numbers of families calling for WIC benefits, and more are expected as businesses continue to close, and unemployment rises. 
U.S. Withdraws from World Health Organization
Last week, President Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). The U.S. has relied on its partnership with the WHO and other countries to share crucial data and information, including on treatments and potential vaccine development for the coronavirus, as well as other public health threats including HIV and Ebola. Experts cautioned the nation's public health response to the coronavirus and other emerging diseases would lag without that international cooperation. It remains unclear whether Trump has the authority to withdraw the United States without Congressional approval. Trump had accused WHO of focusing its COVID response on China, the first reported hot spot for infections. 
New State Budget Deal Protects Health and Social Services Programs 
The Legislature's State Budget for fiscal year 2020-21 beginning July 1
st, aims to protect key health and social service programs and rejects many of the Governor's May Revise cuts to Medi-Cal. The Senate Budget Committee voted last week to reject many of the proposed drastic cuts to health and social services programs. The Senate also rejected those cuts and adopted their own "trigger" cut mechanism, and a more optimistic fiscal view in anticipation of tax returns in July, coupled with additional federal relief they hope to secure by September, and a plan to use more of the state reserves. The Senate "trigger" cuts would only go into effect October 1, 2020 if the anticipated funding is not secured and revenues don't meet expectations. Today the State Assembly locked arms with the State Senate and agreed upon the new proposal. The good news is that California has a generous fiscal reserve. Negotiations normally take place in June via a two house Budget Conference Committee to reconcile differences between the two houses on the State Budget, but due to COVID19 and safety logistics, it was not possible this year. Instead, the deal will be voted upon by the Senate and Assembly floors by June 15th, for a new State Budget in place and signed into law by the Governor by July 1st. The following Medi-Cal and other healthcare cuts have been restored: Medi-Cal Eligibility Expansion for Undocumented Adults over Age 26, Medi-Cal Optional Benefits and Black Infant Health Program.
CWA News
Annual Conference & Trade Show Info Posted!
We are pleased to announce CWA's 28th Annual Conference and Trade Show, Empowered Young Families Unite, Inspire, Uplift, in a virtual format, is live on our conference webpage. The five-day event, Mon. Aug. 24-Fri. Aug. 28, will include live and recorded sessions, with all speakers being available for chat during their session. All sessions will be available in a recorded format from Aug. 28-Oct. 28. The virtual trade show will provide opportunities to engage with companies and organizations supporting the food package, breastfeeding, management and more, throughout the conference week. You can meet with your WIC friends and colleagues from not only across California, but the nation! Wear active wear for daily exercise and wellness options and participate in fun activities. Need your CE units? About 25 CE units will be available for RDs, IBCLCs, and RNs. Check out the agenda and FAQs to learn more.  
Our Top News Picks
Advocates Push for Remote WIC Shopping
Anti-hunger organizations and advocates for low-income families have been working toward making online grocery shopping possible for WIC families for years, and as the coronavirus spread this spring, those efforts accelerated. On May 8, nearly 100 members of Congress, led by Michigan Rep. Andy Levin and Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore, wrote a letter to Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Administrator Pam Miller, whose department oversees WIC, asking her to waive the requirement that participants enter their PIN or use vouchers in front of a cashier, but though USDA has granted a number of waivers allowing state agencies to issue WIC benefits and conduct other operations remotely during the pandemic, it hasn't budged on the rule requiring beneficiaries to purchase their groceries in person, citing concerns about fraud. This spring, USDA allowed a growing number of states to enter a pilot program that allows SNAP recipients to use food stamps to shop online. WIC advocates argue that a similar switch can and should happen in the WIC program too. Shout out to CA Food Policy Advocates for their work on this issue. 
Lonely Children in Lockdown May Experience Future Mental Health Problems
Children and adolescents are likely to experience high rates of depression and anxiety long after current lockdown and social isolation ends and clinical services need to be prepared for a future spike in demand, according to the authors of a new rapid review into the long-term mental health effects of lockdown. According to the review, young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future, and that the impact of loneliness on mental health could last for at least 9 years. This, say the authors, should act as a warning to policymakers of the expected rise in demand for mental health services from young people and young adults in the years to come - both here in the UK (were the research took place) and around the world. 
Birth Rate Continues to Decline
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in May that 3.7 million children were born in the U.S. last year, down 1 percent from 2018 and the lowest total number of births since 1985. Birth rates dropped among women in nearly every age and race group, though they rose among women in their early 40s, the CDC found. Birth rates among teenagers dropped substantially, hitting record lows. The rate of teenagers giving birth has dropped by 60 percent since 2007, and by 73 percent since 1991. Now, demographers say the birth rate is likely to plunge even more in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic recession accompanying it. Birth rates have historically fallen in times of economic hardship. 
Environmental Contaminants Alter Gut Microbiome, Health
The microbes that inhabit our bodies are influenced by what we eat, drink, breathe and absorb through our skin, and most of us are chronically exposed to natural and human-made environmental contaminants. In a new paper published in Toxicological Sciences, scientists review the research linking dozens of environmental chemicals to changes in the gut microbiome and associated health challenges. The paper includes sections on compounds used in manufacturing consumer goods, including the bisphenols found in plastic food packaging, and phthalates, which are used in everything from vinyl flooring to plastic films. It also describes the science associated with exposure to persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals. Researchers found that exposure to bisphenols increase levels of a bacteria known to boost their host's ability to extract more energy from food, possibly resulting in weight gain, high phthalate exposure in human newborns is associated with changes in the gut microbiome and altered immune responses to vaccination, PCBs are associated with microbial shifts in the gut and increased gut permeability, intestinal inflammation and cognitive problems. 
Breastfeeding Resources for Pride Month
June is Pride Month! The USBC has published a webpage titled, "LGBTQIA+ Resources and Pride Month." The webpage features a compilation of resources, tools, and materials from the field that can be shared with breastfeeding families. You can submit additional resources via their online form. 
Apply for P-EBT by the End of June! 
The pandemic nutrition program, P-EBT, is for students who are normally able to get free or reduced price school meals. Students receiving school meals should already have received a card, but students who were eligible but not participating may not have. Families must apply by June 30th to receive up to $365 per child to spend on groceries. Children may continue to receive "grab n go" meals or emergency food at COVID-19 emergency feeding sites offered by schools and community locations, even if they are receiving P-EBT benefits. 
COVID-19 Magnifies Threats to Breastfeeding 
The pandemic highlights the need for legal protections for breastfeeding, as reported by The International Baby Food Action Network, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization in a report, "Marketing of breast milk substitutes: national implementation of the international code, status report 2020." The report provides updated information on the status of implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (the Code) and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions in countries. Using a scoring algorithm, the report concludes that in 2018-2020, 44 countries around the world strengthened their protections against inappropriate marketing of breast milk substitutes. 11 other countries passed new Code-related legislation or filled gaps in existing legal measures during this time period. The United States has no legal measures related to the Code. Read the press release. 
Resources for Talking With Kids About Racism  
Racism, race-motivated hate crimes, and racism and implicit bias in policing and police brutality are ongoing problems in the United States. The last week in particular has seen a brutal murder of a black man by police officers in Minneapolis, and a strong reaction from the public in cities around the country. These can be scary and confusing images and stories for young children to take in and process. Here are some resources for parents of young children to talk with their kids about racism, and about George Floyd's murder in particular.   
California WIC Association
3960 Industrial Blvd., Suite 500 West Sacramento, CA 95691

Phone: 916-572-0700; Fax: 916-572-0760