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USDA extends WIC COVID-19 flexibilities

(KJCT)
Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 4:29 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIBW) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended COVID-19 flexibilities for WIC.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is extending more than a dozen flexibilities ensuring participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children continues receiving the food and health support needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the USDA, its proactive extension of the waivers throughout the pandemic will ensure nutritionally at-risk mothers, babies and children get the critical nutrition benefits and services they count on in a safe way while allowing the program to operate based on local conditions.

“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.”

The USDA said without the extension, the essential flexibilities would have already expired.

According to the department, 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 nutritionally at-risk according to health professionals.

The USDA said its Food and Nutrition Service has made the most of the existing program flexibilities and the waiver authority provided by Congress to make it as easy as possible for kids and families to participate in WIC, and all of its nutrition assistance programs, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the USDA, the waivers being extended allow for the following:

  • 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.

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