In response to the strain COVID-19 has put on our low-income population’s access to resources for food and nutrition, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) allowed waivers to clear some of the regulatory hurdles associated with the below programs that would contradict the public health guidance, supply shortages, and job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.
School Lunch Programs
Non-congregate distribution allowed: While schools typically offer free food programs in a group setting, the FFCRA waived this requirement to allow schools to pass out meals outside of the school, keeping social distancing guidelines intact.
Meal patterns not required: To ease the effects of administrative burden or supply chain disruption, regulations on meal patterns were relaxed to ensure expediency of food delivery.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)*
Physical presence/ exams waived: Individuals and their children do not have to present at an administrative office for certification or recertification to receive WIC assistance benefits. The bloodwork and/or physical examinations that may coincide with these visits are also deferred.
States may request additional waivers: the FFCRA allows the Secretary of Agriculture to review and approve various State Agency waiver requests if the State is unable to meet WIC regulations due to COVID-19 impacts or needs modification in order to provide proper assistance to WIC eligible individuals.
Special Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Work requirement for eligibility waived: During the pandemic season, recipients of SNAP allotments (e.g. EBT) will not lose eligibility nor be penalized for receiving benefits based on work hours requirements. Note that Individuals must still comply with state agency requirements).
Emergency Allotments and Flexible Issuance Methods Available
At the request of the State, the Secretary of Agriculture may approve emergency allotments to address temporary food needs and consider alternative allotment issuance based on the needs or challenges of an impacted area.
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*the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federal assistance program of the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture for healthcare and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five.