FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press contact: Natalie Moran
WASHINGTON – Over 60 national organizations and over 350 local service-provider agencies from all 50 states are calling on Congress to extend U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waiver authority for WIC in the next COVID-response package. Earlier this week, the Senate introduced the HEALS Act – which failed to include provisions related to federal nutrition programs. USDA waiver authority is currently set to expire in two months – on September 30, 2020.
First provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, USDA waivers have empowered state and local WIC agencies to adapt services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many states have adopted a remote-service model, allowing for telephone or video conferencing appointments, whereas other states have implemented curbside service to reduce in-person contact while providing WIC’s vital nutrition assistance. Without these waivers, WIC clinics will be forced to return to in-person appointments – putting pregnant women, young children, clinic staff, and their families at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response to today’s action:
“Time is running out. With USDA’s pandemic-specific waiver authority set to expire in two months, WIC providers are looking to Congress for quick action to extend the waivers. Failure to act will put the health and safety of clinic staff, pregnant women, moms, babies, young children, and their families at risk of COVID-19 infections. With so many families struggling to put enough food on the table as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is not the time to put risky barriers in the way of access to nutritious food. Congress must urgently act to address the unfolding hunger crisis. They must extend these essential health and safety flexibilities and invest in proven federal nutrition programs.”