WIC EBT Nationwide
In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which, in addition to reauthorizing child nutrition programs, also mandated that all state WIC agencies implement Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) systems by October 1, 2020. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) website provides the resources and status of EBT planning and implementation in the nation’s states and Indian Tribal Organizations:
USDA-FNS Website: “WIC EBT Activities” Map
USDA-FNS Website: WIC EBT and Management Information Systems (MIS)
WIC EBT/MIS Project in California
In 2014, USDA-FNS approved two projects for California, WIC EBT and a project to replace California WIC’s legacy MIS. In November 2015, the California released a Notification of Intent to Award a contract for an EBT services provider. The EBT services contract will include providing EBT cards to WIC local agencies for WIC participants and preparing WIC authorized grocer/vendors to do EBT transactions in their stores. The successful implementation of EBT for WIC requires a new MIS for use at the state and local WIC agency offices before the EBT service provider can expand EBT from programs such as CalFresh to WIC. To implement the new MIS for WIC, California will solicit bids and contract for the services of a contractor to test, install, and train users on the new MIS. The current project schedule includes an MIS Request for Proposals release date of June 2017 and contract award is scheduled for September 2018. After rollout of the new MIS in California, WIC will have the ability to integrate and utilize EBT. Transition from paper vouchers to EBT will be fully implemented statewide by October 1, 2020.
Shopping With the WIC EBT Card Will Be Easier for Everyone!
· WIC EBT allows the shopper to electronically access their WIC food benefits at the grocery store without having to carry paper checks. Shoppers will use the grocer’s point-of-sale terminal with their WIC EBT card in exchange for WIC-authorized foods. Similar to other cash and food benefit cards such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/CalFresh) and California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), the WIC EBT system will distinguish what benefits are remaining in the shopper’s benefit account at the time of the transaction.
· WIC-authorized foods are automatically deducted from the family’s available food benefit account at the time of redemption. At the end of the shopping transaction, a receipt is provided to the shopper showing the WIC foods remaining in the account for future purchase. With WIC EBT, checkout times are reduced because cashiers are no longer required to:
o Validate the shopper’s identity using the WIC Identification Folder. Instead, the WIC shopper will enter a secret Personal Identification Number (PIN).
o Check the “valid through” date of each WIC check. The system deducts from the family’s total benefits only the foods available during the current valid through date.
o Manually verify that items being purchased are of the correct quantity, size, and brand – this is done automatically by the system.
o Fill in the exact purchase price and collect the shopper’s signature on each WIC check at the register.
· WIC EBT allows the shopper to have a “mixed basket.” At most stores, shoppers are no longer required to separate WIC food items from other items. WIC-authorized foods are identified automatically as they are scanned through the grocer’s point-of-sale terminal.
Go to WIC EBT/MIS Project Overview and Timeline