On Monday, June 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the extension of all approved waivers for providers of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) through September 30, 2020. These waivers have allowed state and local WIC agencies to offer remote services – including remote certification for new applicants, remote appointments, and remote benefit issuance. They also allow for expanded options for allowable WIC foods.
In response, Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association, issued the following statement:
USDA waivers are absolutely critical to adapting WIC services throughout the COVID-19 crisis. These waivers permit WIC providers to offer remote services, onboard new families by phone, and expand allowable WIC food items. They ensure that WIC mothers and young children continue to receive nutrition support without putting their own health or safety at risk, while also protecting the health and safety of essential WIC staff. Common sense dictates that these waivers are critical to ensuring WIC agencies can safely deliver essential nutrition services and healthy foods in the months ahead.
Since the waivers were first issued in March, the National WIC Association has consistently lifted up the concerns of state and local WIC providers and advocated that USDA issue long-term waivers. We cannot understand why it has taken USDA months to recognize the importance of this step. Still, we applaud USDA’s decision to utilize the full flexibility included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act by extending approved waivers through September 30. Bipartisan efforts in both the House and Senate pressed USDA for this change, and we thank Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA), and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) for their leadership on this issue. As states continue to navigate this unprecedented public health emergency, it is urgent that Congress sustain the successful waiver process beyond September to support adapted WIC services throughout the entire duration of the COVID-19 crisis.