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Updated Expiration Schedule for Existing FNS-Approved WIC COVID-19 Waivers

EO Guidance Document #
FNS Document #
WIC Policy Memorandum #2021-10
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
PDF Icon WPM 2021-10 (253.68 KB)
DATE: September 20, 2021
POLICY MEMO: WIC Policy Memorandum #2021-10
SUBJECT: Updated Expiration Schedule for Existing FNS-Approved WIC COVID-19 Waivers
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
WIC State Agency Directors
All State Agencies

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA, PL 116-127), as amended, provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) the statutory and regulatory waiver authorities necessary during the COVID-19 public health emergency to allow for social distancing and other administrative flexibilities in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). On Sept. 21, 2020, FNS issued WIC Policy Memorandum #2020-6: Extensions for Certain USDA FNS-Approved COVID-19 Waivers, which extended a majority of the previously approved WIC waivers until 30 days after the end of the nationally-declared public health emergency. On Nov. 13, 2020, FNS issued WIC Policy Memorandum #2021-1: Implementation of WIC and FMNP Waiver Extension Provisions in the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, which communicated USDA’s authority to approve new waivers for the WIC program through Sept. 30, 2021.

USDA FNS has heard from state agency partners that a safe and successful return to normal operations will require more than 30 days’ notice once the nationally-declared public health emergency ends. Therefore, this memorandum extends certain WIC waivers until 90 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, all active food package substitution waivers, and active vendor (retail) minimum stocking requirements waivers are extended under this revised schedule to provide WIC state agencies more certainty as they begin to plan the transition back to in-person service delivery. Additionally, all waivers of the requirement that WIC transactions occur in the presence of a cashier are also extended until 90 days after the end of the nationally-declared public health emergency to promote social distancing through online ordering and transactions. A detailed list of all waivers that are extended is attached.

Although USDA FNS is extending certain previously approved waivers, this memorandum sets an expiration date of all medical documentation waivers of Dec. 31, 2021.

These waivers were intended to provide short-term flexibility early in the COVID-19 pandemic when timely access to health care providers posed a challenge to participants.

However, medical consultation from a licensed provider is necessary to safely and appropriately prescribe certain supplemental foods (e.g., infant formula, exempt infant formula, and WIC-eligible nutritionals) to participants who have a documented qualifying condition as defined under 7 CFR 246.10(e)(3)(i). Existing WIC regulations offer sufficient flexibility to obtain and provide medical documentation in a remote environment without this waiver. As access to health care providers has improved, continued use of the medical documentation waiver now poses an unnecessary risk to certain vulnerable participants by delaying necessary medical oversight.

As a reminder, the authority for USDA FNS to approve new waivers under the FFCRA, as amended, expires on Sept. 30, 2021. WIC state agencies requesting new regulatory COVID-19 waivers through Sept. 30, 2021 should follow the same online waiver request process as used in FY 2021. Terms and conditions and state and local agency reporting requirements and timelines continue to apply to all waivers. USDA FNS will continue to support WIC state agencies as they provide services to WIC participants, and as they prepare for a transition back to normal operations when it becomes safe to do so. State agencies with questions related to this memorandum should contact their respective FNS regional office.

Acting Director
Supplemental Food Programs Division


Page updated: April 03, 2023

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.