WASHINGTON D.C. - Last week, the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would provide Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) state agencies the opportunity to opt into waivers for physical presence requirements and/or remote benefit issuance to evaluate the modernization of WIC services and increase access to WIC benefits. This comes after the Biden Administration announced its intent to end the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration on May 11, 2023.
Since March 2020, USDA has had the authority to waive physical presence requirements to provide remote services through this declaration. This included the deferral of health assessments that took key measurements for informing services that will once again be required when the public health emergency ends. The current waivers expire in August of this year and the new waivers will be available until September 2026.
The following statement is attributed to Dr. Jamila Taylor, President & CEO of the National WIC Association:
“These waivers are a major step in modernizing WIC services and expanding the program’s impact so more families can access the resources and support they need to lead healthier lives. Both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, technological advances made healthcare more accessible, convenient, and supportive for WIC families across the country. Throughout the pandemic, remote access to WIC services has addressed structural barriers in accessibility, reversing a decade-long trend of declining WIC participation and boosting child participation by 13% nationwide.
“Partnership with healthcare providers is key to addressing the health and nutrition needs of WIC families more holistically by providing continuity in healthcare and meeting WIC families where they are. The restoration of health assessments presents an opportunity for WIC to collaborate with healthcare providers more thoughtfully.
“We also want to thank Sens. Gillibrand and Marshal for their leadership in advancing the MODERN WIC Act. As state WIC programs continue to innovate service delivery, we look forward to working with a broad, bipartisan coalition in Congress to chart the path forward with permanent reforms that empower WIC providers, modernize processes and technologies, and fully leverage program benefits to support the health of the next generation.”
The National WIC Association (NWA) is the nonprofit membership organization for State and local providers of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). NWA is the go-to voice of and for WIC staff at more than 12,000 WIC locations across the country who work to support more than 6.2 million mothers and young children. For over three decades, NWA has worked to build broad, bipartisan consensus for WIC’s programmatic goals and public health mission. NWA provides member-driven advocacy; education, guidance, and support to WIC staff; and drive innovation to strengthen WIC as we work toward a nation of healthier women, children, and their families. Learn more at www.nwica.org.