Extension for Certain Approved COVID-19 Waivers
|DATE:||September 21, 2020|
|MEMO CODE:||WIC Policy Memorandum #2020-6|
|SUBJECT:||Extensions for Certain USDA FNS-Approved COVID-19 Waivers|
WIC State Agency Directors
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (PL 116-127, the Act) provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the statutory and regulatory waiver authorities necessary in a public health emergency such as COVID-19 to allow for social distancing in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). To date, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has approved waiver requests from all 89 WIC state agencies. Some of these have previously expired; the rest are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2020.
USDA FNS has heard from state agency partners that flexibilities are still needed to provide high quality WIC services while working toward reopening; therefore, this memorandum formally extends certain active waivers until 30 days after the end of the nationally-declared public health emergency under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 247d). Most active Social Distancing waivers and all active Food Package waivers will be extended to provide WIC state agencies the flexibilities they need during this transition. A detailed list of all active waivers that will be extended beyond September 30 is attached. When a WIC state agency discontinues use of one of these extended waivers, it should inform its FNS regional office within 7 calendar days. Please note that at this time, USDA FNS does not have the authority to take action on waivers after Sept. 30, 2020. This means no new waivers can be granted and discontinued waivers cannot be reactivated.
Additionally, WIC online ordering and transactions support social distancing, so USDA FNS is extending all waivers of the requirement that WIC transactions occur in the presence of a cashier until 30 days after the end of the nationally-declared public health emergency. For program integrity reasons, USDA FNS is not extending waivers that allow a state agency to extend a WIC vendor agreement beyond 3 years or to forgo conducting a minimum number of vendor routine monitoring visits or compliance investigations. State agencies that are unable to resume on-site vendor monitoring and investigations should begin looking into alternative models in order to adequately oversee WIC vendors in FY 2021. To this end, state agencies may request a waiver of the on-site aspect of vendor routine monitoring; however, any such requests must be submitted and approved by Sept. 30, 2020 in order to be extended under this memorandum.
Please note that all extensions will be subject to the terms and conditions of the initial waiver approval and that state and local agency reporting requirements and timelines still apply. USDA FNS will continue to support WIC state agencies as they provide services to WIC participants while they work toward a safe, timely transition back to in-person appointments and regular documentation. State agencies with questions related to this extension should contact their respective FNS regional office.
Supplemental Food Programs Division
The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.