WIC Disaster Response
Although the WIC Program is not designed to be a disaster assistance program, and therefore is not considered a first line of defense, WIC policies are designed to allow State agencies flexibility in program design and administration to support continuation of benefits to participants during times of natural or other disasters.
What does this mean if you are a WIC Participant?
If you live in an area where a weather-related or other type of disaster has occurred or is about to occur, and you have been asked or required to leave your home with very little advance notice, you may still be able to receive WIC benefits for yourself and/or your young children. WIC participants in your situation are called “evacuees." To make it easier to register and obtain benefits in any State, you should know that:
What does this mean if you are a refugee?
A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave his or her home (country) and seek refuge elsewhere. It is the intent of the WIC Program to provide services to all eligible categories of individuals during critical times of growth and development. In establishing eligibility for the Program, refugee status is not considered, and it is therefore not necessary to determine whether or not an applicant is a refugee. Legal residency or United States citizenship are not Federal requirements for participation in the Program; however, State agencies have the option to impose such requirements.
It is probable that a refugee may not live in the State in which he or she applies for the WIC Program. In this case, a refugee may be considered homeless. WIC Program regulations allow State agencies to authorize the certification of homeless individuals without requiring proof of residency under certain circumstances (e.g., no actual home address or temporary residence in a homeless shelter or facility).
Meeting the income guidelines is a condition of WIC Program eligibility for all applicants. For WIC, the definition of family includes related and unrelated individuals living together as an economic unit. As part of the assessment process, local agency staff will need to ask clarifying questions to determine the exact economic unit for refugee applicants living in the residence of another individual.
State or local agencies must require all applicants to provide documentation of income at the time of certification. WIC Regulations permit State agencies to relax the requirement for applicants, including homeless individuals, if this requirement would present an unreasonable barrier to participation in the WIC Program. Therefore, if a refugee is unable to provide the necessary documentation, a State agency may accept a self-declaration of income, which is a signed statement specifying why he/she cannot provide documentation of income. Such a statement is not required when there is no income.
WIC Regulations recognize homelessness as an allowable nutrition risk condition when determining eligibility for the WIC Program. However, the local agency is still expected to perform a complete nutrition assessment for each refugee applicant, who may be suffering from other medical or dietary nutrition risk factors that require prompt attention and/or referral to a health care provider.
WIC Supplemental Foods:
WIC Regulations allow local agency nutritionists and other competent professional authorities to adapt the WIC food package to accommodate the unique needs and circumstances of homeless participants, such as refugees. Some of these adaptations may be necessary for refugees who are certified to receive WIC benefits, depending on their living situations or their access to cooking facilities, as well as their overall capability to make the best use of the foods provided (e.g., limited English proficiency may inhibit a refugee mother’s ability to use powdered or concentrated infant formula). Such substitutions may include:
However, no exemptions or exceptions are allowed from the requirement for medical documentation to support the issuance of certain supplemental foods including exempt infant formulas as described in the WIC Regulations.
In tailoring nutrition education and referrals to address the specific needs and cultural preferences of refugee participants, State agencies are encouraged to share language–specific materials relevant to such applicants with other States and regional office staff.
What does this mean if you are an authorized WIC vendor or retailer?
What does this mean if you are a WIC State agency?
Please click on the following link for more specific
information regarding WIC operations during disaster situations:
Other information that may be helpful to you:
Last modified 02/17/12
|Accessibility | Privacy/Security | Nondiscrimination | USDA|