Updates on helpful resources like WIC and Pandemic-EBT were top issues during the Military Family Food Insecurity Coalition (MFFIC) quarterly meeting. Participants of the MFFIC work together to develop solutions that drive awareness and access to programs alleviating military family food insecurity.
Bringing together best-in-class organizations from across the public and private sector, we all learn from each other as we work to meet the needs of the community we serve. This meeting featured presentations by the folks at the National WIC Association and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) about updates with the administration of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT).
Here are the key takeaways from the meeting:
You’ve probably heard of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). You might even know that WIC is meant to supplement the diets of pregnant women and babies to ensure they have adequate nutrition. But did you know that the program also serves non-breastfeeding postpartum women, toddlers, and children up to age 5? Or that it provides nutritional education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care?
WIC is so much more than vouchers to be used at the local grocery store (or commissary if you’re lucky). The WIC program has been proven to reduce fetal deaths and infant mortality, reduce low birthweight rates, improve nutrition, facilitate prenatal care, increase the likelihood of regular medical care for children, improve children’s intellectual development and readiness to start school, and other positive outcomes.
If you’re pregnant or the parent of a child 5 or younger, it’s worth looking into whether you’re eligible for the program. (It’s also worth mentioning that WIC participants who move from one area or state to another are placed at the top of the waiting list when they move – good to know for military families!) See if you’re eligible here.
We’ve talked about the P-EBT benefit before. It’s a program that provides support to families of school-age children who, due to school closures or virtual learning, no longer have access to free or reduced-price school meals.
But we were very excited to hear of increased eligibility. Children under the age of six who were eligible for SNAP and in child care that was closed or operating at reduced hours due to COVID are now also eligible for P-EBT. Each state must submit its plan to reach children in daycare. So, while it’s not immediate relief while the states complete the process, it looks like additional help is on the way for families with younger children in daycare. In other good news, Puerto Rico is now participating in the P-EBT program as well.
What can you do while you wait?
- Monitor the status of your state’s P-EBT program at this great website developed by our friends (and MFFIC participants) at the Food Research & Action Center.
- Make sure your child/children’s school has your current address on file and that you’ve completed the free/reduced benefit application for the current school year, so you’re all set to go when the P-EBT plan for your state has been completed.
Resources and Information
Here are some additional resources if you’re interested in learning more.