Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (FFCRA, PL 116-127), the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) had the authority to grant certain programmatic waivers to state agencies that administer WIC. FNS issued waivers to provide flexibilities to requirements that could not be met as a result of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and support continued access to WIC services. By the time FFCRA waiver authority ended on Sept. 30, 2021, FNS had approved 16 types of WIC waivers and 831 individual waiver requests across the 89 WIC state agencies.
This report summarizes the reported use and impact of the physical presence waiver, which waived the statutory requirement that participants be physically present to be certified as eligible for WIC, allowing WIC state and local agencies to remotely certify participants and defer anthropometric (i.e., height, weight) and bloodwork requirements needed to determine nutritional risk for the period the waiver was in effect.
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all (98.6 percent) WIC local agencies offered remote certification appointments to participants; before the pandemic, only 11.9 percent of WIC local agencies did so.
- Nearly all WIC local agencies (98.5 percent) offered certification appointments by telephone, 22 percent continued to offer in-person appointments, and 11.1 percent used video call platforms.
- Almost all WIC state (94.3 percent) and local (87.5 percent) agencies reported the physical presence waiver was extremely important to ensuring WIC participants received quality WIC services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Although most WIC local agencies (82 percent) found the transition to remote services to be at least slightly challenging, only a few WIC local agencies (5 percent) found it to be very or extremely challenging.
The following links are related reports on the use of FFCRA waivers in WIC during the COVID-19 pandemic: