September 28, 2020

WIC COVID-19 Flexibilities Extended by USDA

WIC COVID-19 Flexibilities Extended by USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will extend over a dozen flexibilities guaranteeing participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) continue receiving the food and health support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension will allow nutritionally at-risk mothers, babies, and children to receive the critical nutrition benefits and services they count safely while allowing the program to operate based on local conditions throughout the pandemic. Without these actions, the flexibilities would have expired at the end of this month.

“USDA has been extremely steadfast in offering flexibilities to ensure Americans in need continue to receive food assistance during COVID-19. President Trump has demonstrated his commitment to supporting Americans in need during the pandemic and setting them up for success as our nation reopens and recovers,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue, in a press release. “WIC provides vital services to new and expectant mothers, infants, and children and we are committed to making it as easy as possible for them to receive the support they need during the pandemic.”

WIC provides supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and health care referrals to low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children under five who are determined by health professionals to be at nutritional risk. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has made maximum use of existing program flexibilities and the waiver authority provided by Congress to make it as easy as possible for children and families to participate in WIC, and all of the department’s nutrition assistance programs, during the COVID-19 health emergency.

The WIC waivers being extended allow for participants to be approved for WIC without being physically present in a local office, remote issuance of benefits to any participant, flexibility in food package requirements, including dairy, grains, vegetables, and infant foods, and additional options for pick-up of food packages. State-by-state waivers can be found here.