|DATE:||May 24, 2022|
|SUBJECT:||Request for Additional WIC Flexibility in Response to the Impact of the
Ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic on Nationwide
Infant Formula Supply Chain Issues and 2022 Abbott Recall – Vendor
|TO:||All FNS Regional Offices
All WIC State Agencies
This letter is in response to correspondence from WIC state agencies requesting program flexibility from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Federal requirements as a result of the impact of the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the 2022 Abbott recall of certain powder infant formula and exempt infant formula on the nationwide supply chain leading to both periodic location- and product-based WIC infant formula and exempt infant formula shortages.
Applicable WIC state agencies individually requested waivers of the federal requirement that prohibits WIC authorized vendors from providing exchanges of products purchased with WIC benefits. This waiver helps allow WIC participants to be treated like all other customers during the 2022 Abbott recall of certain powder infant formula and exempt infant formula. Pursuant to the authority granted under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 USC 5121-5207), USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approves this waiver request for state agencies listed in the attachment through the earlier of either Sept. 30, 2022 or the expiration date of the major disaster declaration in the affected area.
This waiver is only applicable to regulations at:
- 7 CFR 246.12(h)(3)(ii), which prohibits WIC authorized vendors from permitting exchanges for authorized supplemental foods obtained with food instruments beyond exchanges for an identical (exact brand and size) food item.
As this requirement must be included in the state agency’s vendor agreements per 7 CFR 246.12(h)(3), WIC state agencies should work with their legal counsel to determine whether additional action is needed at the state level to waive this requirement. This waiver only applies to items being exchanged under the 2022 Abbott recall of certain powder infant formula and exempt infant formula during COVID-19 supply chain disruptions. Unless a state agency has additional active FNS waivers, all other federal WIC requirements must be met.
USDA FNS appreciates WIC state agencies’ commitment to quickly responding to the COVID19 related nationwide supply chain issues that have been exacerbated by this recall.
Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Programs