USDA extends waivers: WIC continues to provide remote services

OLYMPIA -- The federal government has made it easier for people to participate in the WIC program during the pandemic.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the waivers that allow the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to offer remote services to participants. This, the third extension, will continue as long as there is a declared national public health emergency.
The waivers make it possible for Washington WIC to enroll new applicants, provide health screening, nutrition education and breastfeeding support, make referrals, and issue food benefits by phone or video chat. WIC normally requires in-person meetings.
“This comes as a huge relief for WIC families and WIC staff as they focus on staying as safe as possible during the pandemic,” says Paul Throne, director of Washington WIC. “Many new moms and families with young children may qualify for WIC; we encourage them to reach out to us. If a young family has someone on Apple Health Medical (Provider One), they are especially likely to qualify.”
When WIC started offering all remote services in April, program participation grew by about 4 percent and the rate of missed appointments dropped from 15 percent to almost zero.
Washington WIC recently expanded the list of allowed foods to give families more choices and introduced the WIC Shopper App. More than 90 percent of WIC families now use the app to help them pick out the right foods. The app has parenting tips and recipes that are great for all young families, not just those on WIC.
Given layoffs and other economic consequences related to COVID-19, people may be seeking WIC services for the first time. WIC has capacity and welcomes new families. To find WIC services in your area:
Text “WIC” to 96859
Visit ParentHelp123’s ResourceFinder
Call the Help Me Grow WA Hotline at 1-800-322-2588
More information on this WIC waiver, and others approved since the start of COVID-19, is available online.
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