The USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides critical nutrition assistance to lower-income women, infants, and young children. During the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment has risen to levels greater than experienced during the Great Recession, and food insecurity has also increased, making WIC’s role more important than ever. This research brief focuses on how to strengthen WIC’s impact during and after COVID-19. The brief summarizes the evidence of WIC’s benefits and challenges the program and participants are facing due to COVID-19. The brief addresses what actions are needed in addition to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress, which provided $500 million for 2020 to support increases in WIC enrollment. The brief suggests increasing access to telemedicine, expanding online food package ordering, in addition to steps already taken, including minimum stocking requirements and food package substitutions for added flexibility.
Strengthening WIC’s Impact During and After the COVID‑19 Pandemic
In the next year, an estimated 1 in 4 children will experience food insecurity (up from 1 in 6, pre-pandemic), disproportionately impacting children in low-income households and racial/ethnic minorities. To mediate loss of school meals during closures and reduce COVID-19 exposure, Congress authorized the USDA to permit local education authorities … More
Food insecurity among households with children under 18 has increased dramatically during the COVID pandemic; from 15% in 2018 to 28% in June 2020. Governments and school districts have rapidly adopted policies to help children facing food insecurity as a result of the pandemic. Two leading policies include the Pandemic-Electronic … More
Strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through State Waiver Flexibilities: Perspectives from the National Network of State SNAP Directors
The rapid rise in food insecurity among households with children during COVID-19 has reinforced the critical role SNAP plays in reducing food insecurity and poverty, particularly in low-income communities of color. Waivers and other state program modifications enacted during the pandemic could improve access to SNAP and reduce income and … More