USDA eases WIC food package rules for Texas participants affected by Harvey
WASHINGTON — Families participating in U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in hurricane-stricken Texas will have an easier time finding WIC-approved foods for mothers and their children thanks to food-package flexibilities approved Sunday by USDA.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved the request from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission because the full range of eggs, bread and fluid milk products are in short supply in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
“USDA is committed to ensuring that people touched by this disaster get the vital nutrition they need – in particular the women and children participating in the WIC program,” Perdue said. “Helping victims of Hurricane Harvey is a top priority for President Trump, and we will continue working to expedite access to programs which provide food for the vulnerable. We’re with you, Texas.”
Pregnant, post-partum and nursing women and children participating in WIC are given a personal food “prescription” designed to meet their specific nutritional needs. Under normal circumstances, they can use their food benefits at authorized retailers to purchase only specific WIC food items. The flexibilities approved this past weekend and lasting through Sept. 24, will expand the variety of certain WIC products allowed to be purchased based on what is available on store shelves.
Here are the details:
Eggs: Participants will be allowed to purchase a variety of types of eggs in various pack sizes.
Bread: Participants will be allowed to purchase a variety of bread products in various sizes that are readily available at the retailer. Retailers will be assisting participants in making their selections.
Fluid Milk: Participants over the age of one year will be allowed to substitute milk of any available fat content and type despite the designation of their food package. Flavored milk will not be considered.
FNS continues to provide critical support for people affected by Hurricane Harvey and has approved the flexibilities to ensure that WIC participants continue to receive nutritional support throughout the disaster. WIC provides supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health and other social services for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
If you lost WIC food or formula, lost a WIC card, or need to find an open WIC clinic, call Texas WIC at 1-(800) 942-3678 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The WIC flexibilities approved Sunday are the latest in an ongoing series of USDA actions taken to help Texans cope with the storm and its aftermath that also include a waiver to allow all disaster-affected schools to provide meals to all students at no charge and be reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate through Sept. 30.
In addition, local disaster organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Southern Baptist Men continue to utilize USDA foods to serve hot meals in congregate shelters. Individuals seeking more information about this and other available aid should dial 2-1-1 (for callers from Texas) or 1-(877) 541-7905. For more information about Texas SNAP, visit YourTexasBenefits.com.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster.