USDA extends WIC COVID-19 flexibilities for duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency

(Washington, D.C., September 21, 2020) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the extension of more than a dozen flexibilities ensuring 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.

USDA’s proactive extension of these waivers throughout the national public health emergency will ensure nutritionally at-risk mothers, babies and children receive the critical nutrition benefits and services they count on in a safe manner while allowing the program to operate based on local conditions throughout the pandemic.

“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. “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.”

Background:

Without today’s action, these essential flexibilities would have expired at the end of this month.

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.

More information on the WIC waivers extended today, along with those that have been approved since the start of COVID-19, is available at www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus and on Twitter at @USDANutrition.