Pay attention to what you grab off the shelf, because you could be taking one of the only available items to families using government assistance—as Kerry Washington points out in a Tweet.
The Scandal actress shared a photo of a store shelf label with the caption, “When stocking up for #SocialDistancing…If you see something labeled ‘WIC’ please chose [sic] another brand. People who rely on WIC products to feed their kids cannot. We’re all in this together.” The Tweet has gone viral with more than 25,000 retweets.
When stocking up for #SocialDistancing…If you see something labeled “WIC” please chose another brand. People who rely on WIC products to feed their kids cannot. We’re all in this together 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/3OwhR650m4
What does WIC mean?
Short for Women, Infants, and Children, WIC provides free food and services to low-income women and children, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Families use WIC checks at retail stores to purchase approved items like cereal, vegetables, juice, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, and brown rice. These products are designated with “WIC” on store labels.
Each state has its own guidelines for administering the program. For example, Arizona does not permit substitutions for unavailable WIC-approved food. This means if a WIC-designated cereal runs out, families on the program can’t just pick another box.
However, WIC rules can be changed to better assist families during the current COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement released March 6, the USDA says that all food and nutrition services, which includes WIC, “have flexibilities and contingencies built-in to allow them to respond to on-the-ground realities in the event of a disaster or emergency situation.”
During a federal disaster, states can request to substitute packaged WIC items with similar goods when the approved item is unavailable. However, states must put in a request to change the rules.
If you’re unsure about whether your state allows substitutions, it may be best to follow Washington’s lead if you don’t use WIC.
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