State’s supplemental nutrition program for women, children to continue remotely after Congress extends waiver

Congress recently extended waivers that permit the Washington WIC program to offer remote services through September 30, 2020. WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

While the rules normally require in-person meetings, the waivers allow WIC to enroll new applicants, provide nutrition education and breastfeeding support, and issue food benefits by phone or video chat. Since WIC started offering remote services, program participation grew by about 4% and the rate of missed appointments dropped from 15% to almost zero.

Washington WIC also expanded the list of allowed foods to give families more choices. Participants now shop for WIC foods using a WIC card, which makes shopping easier. The WIC Shopper App is another new tool that helps WIC families pick out the right foods, and includes parenting tips and recipes.

According to a Washington State Department of Health announcement, WIC gives families access to nutritious food and provides health screening, risk assessment, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health and social services. The program offers essential services for those who are pregnant, new and breastfeeding moms, infants, and children under age 5. Most pregnant women and young children on Medicaid or Basic Food (SNAP) qualify for WIC services.

“During this stressful time, good nutrition is more important than ever,” says Paul Throne, director of Washington WIC.

“It was difficult to figure out how more than 900 staff in 206 locations could provide all services remotely, but our local agencies did it,” Throne said. “This approach ensures that WIC families continue to receive essential nutrition support while preventing potential exposure to COVID-19. We hope we’ll be able to continue providing remote services throughout the pandemic.”

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:

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