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Release No. 0191.18
Contact: USDA Press
USDA Approves North Carolina WIC Flexibilities in Wake of Hurricane Florence
WASHINGTON, September 21, 2018 – The state of North Carolina will be able to better serve participants through the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in the wake of Hurricane Florence, thanks to operational flexibilities approved for their use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The State will be able to issue benefits remotely and waive some nutrition education requirements in places where offices are closed, as well as replace September food benefits that were damaged or stolen during the hurricane.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved the request from the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services to use these flexibilities because of the closure of 22 local WIC offices, impacting 60,000 women, infants and children.
“North Carolina and USDA are working together to support the recovery of those affected by this devastating storm,” Secretary Perdue said. “Flexibility provided through the WIC program will make it easier for women and children to get much needed nutrition, ensuring they do not go hungry because of this terrible 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.
Participants who lost WIC food, formula, or WIC card due to Hurricane Florence, or need to find an open WIC clinic should call North Carolina WIC at 1-800-367-2229 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
FNS continues to provide critical support for people affected by Hurricane Florence and has approved the flexibilities to ensure WIC participants continue to receive nutritional support as they recover from the disaster. USDA will continue to monitor the situation, and work with North Carolina officials to determine if further assistance is needed.
The approval of these WIC flexibilities is the latest in an ongoing series of USDA actions taken to help North Carolina cope with the storm and its aftermath, including a waiver to allow all schools in disaster-affected areas to provide free meals though October 26.
In addition, local disaster organizations, such as The Salvation Army and NC 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 more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit www.fns.usda.gov/disaster.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, these programs include the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.