Vendor Food Package and Other Changes FAQ’s
Questions and answers will be added to this list periodically.
Please also access recent Vendor Alerts, available on this website, for additional information on these topics.
In this document “FI” refers to food instrument
GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT UPCOMING CHANGES
What changes are happening?
- The WIC Program’s authorized food packages for participants are changing. In addition to participants receiving new foods such as whole grains, low fat milk, and fruits and vegetables, participants will receive different quantities of some foods in their current food packages.
- Proposed stocking requirements for vendors will be changing. Revisions will be made to FIs, including the addition of a fruit and vegetable FI. The FIs will have a new look and there will be more WIC foods combined on one check.
- Restrictions on the use of the WIC logo and acronym have been clarified and enhanced.
- Above‑50% vendor’s (Peer Group 1) incentive items and prohibitions have been amended.
- Vendor Agreements requirements will be revised.
All of these changes are being made pursuant to changes in federal regulations and requirements for the WIC Program.
When are these changes being implemented?
For the California WIC Program, the implementation date is October 1st, 2009. As of that date, ALL vendors will be required to comply with the new requirements and the local agency sites will begin issuing to participants the FIs reflecting the new food package items. Due to the double and triple month issuance of FIs to participants, there will be a three month transition period where vendors will see FIs with the food items that are currently authorized and FIs reflecting food items from the new food package. As always, vendors are required to provide WIC participants with the foods specified on the FIs. This transition is not dissimilar to the transition periods vendors have experienced when the infant formula or infant cereal rebate products change.
VENDOR AGREEMENT QUESTIONS
Will authorized vendors be receiving a new, revised Vendor Agreement?
Yes. All revised Vendor Agreements for all authorized vendors will have an effective date of October 1, 2009 through the end of their existing contract. These revised Vendor Agreements will not extend any vendor’s authorization period.
What are the changes in the Vendor Agreement?
The revised Vendor Agreement will add some new requirements and amend some existing requirements in the following general areas:
- Accepting and redeeming the new FI for fruits & vegetables
- Use of the WIC logo and acronym
- Above‑50% vendors (Peer Group 1) incentive items and prohibitions
When will vendors receive a revised Vendor Agreement?
The WIC Program will be mailing new Vendor Agreements to all authorized vendors in the summer of 2009. The above‑50% vendors (Peer Group 1) will also receive a revised Vendor Agreement Addendum for incentive items. In order to remain authorized, vendors will be required to review, sign, date, and return the revised Vendor Agreement to the WIC Program in a designated time period. Further information and exact timeframes will be provided in the envelope with the new Vendor Agreements.
Do vendors have to sign and agree to the new requirements in the revised Vendor Agreement?
Yes. Pursuant to federal requirements and their current Vendor Agreement, an authorized vendor must accept and comply with any changes to the Vendor Agreement and Federal and State statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures governing the WIC Program, including any changes made during the agreement period. Failure to due so would be grounds for termination of the Vendor Agreement and denial of the authorization to accept and redeem FIs.
ABOVE‑50% VENDOR INCENTIVE ITEMS AND SERVICES QUESTIONS
What is an above‑50% vendor?
An above‑50% vendor is defined as a vendor that derives more than 50 percent of their annual food sales revenue from WIC FIs excluding the revenue from fruits and vegetables FIs, or a new vendor applicant who the Department determines is likely to meet the criteria.
Will incentive items change from currently allowed incentive items?
Yes, slightly. Canned baked beans (plain, vegetarian, or with pork or bacon) will no longer be allowed. Water-packed canned tuna will now include both 5‑oz and 6‑oz can sizes. A taste testing sample will be allowed. It is important to remember that the total value of the incentive item must be less than two dollars ($2.00); the incentive item may only be provided once per calendar day to a participant family; and that the incentive item may only be provided at the time of the FI transaction. There are also other unchanged rules that are not listed here.
When will the allowed incentive items change?
The change will be effective on October 1, 2009.
What incentive items are above‑50% vendors allowed to provide on and after October 1, 2009?
Approved incentive items shall include one or any combination of the following; as long as the combined total value is less than two dollars:
(1) Prepackaged fresh fruit and vegetables, purchased from a wholesaler.
(2) 14-ounce to 16-ounce cans of any brand or variety of mature beans, mature peas, or lentils, purchased from a wholesaler.
(3) Any variety of prepackaged uncooked, plain, dried, mature beans, peas, or lentils purchased from a wholesaler.
(4) Commercially made, prepackaged, 100 percent corn tortillas, purchased from a wholesaler.
(5) Commercially made, prepackaged, 100% whole wheat bread, purchased from a wholesaler. Package must state “100% Whole Wheat” on the front label.
(6) 5- or 6-ounce cans of chunk light, water-packed tuna purchased from a wholesaler.
(7) WIC Authorized foods offered as part of a taste testing sample to a participant family.
Are there any changes in the Incentive Addendum Rule concerning providing services to participants?
Pursuant to federal regulation, there is a new restriction concerning the above‑50% vendor providing services to participants. This new restriction prohibits the above‑50% vendor offering any service which results in a conflict of interest or the appearance of such conflict of interest. This includes the vendor providing assistance with applying for WIC benefits, information on WIC Program eligibility criteria or benefits, or participating in WIC Program participant outreach events. These changes are included in the new above‑50% Vendor Incentive Addendum, which has been reviewed and approved by USDA.
The current services of assisting the participant with obtaining items from shelves or display cases, bagging purchased items, or assisting participants with packages to their vehicle remain unchanged in the above‑50% Vendor Incentive Addendum and are still permitted.
Will an above‑50% vendor receive a new Vendor Agreement Incentive Addendum?
Yes. The WIC Program will be mailing new Incentive Addendums to all above‑50% vendors, along with the new Vendor Agreement, in the summer of 2009. In order to provide incentive items, the above‑50% vendor will be required to review, sign, date, and return the revised Incentive Addendum in a designated time period. Further information and exact timeframes will be provided in the envelope with the new Vendor Agreements and Incentive Addendum.
Do above‑50% vendors have to sign and agree to the new requirements in the revised Incentive Addendum?
Yes and no.
If an above‑50% vendor wishes to provide, or wishes to continue to provide, incentive items to participants then the above‑50% vendor must sign the new addendum and agree to the terms therein.
If an above‑50% vendor does not wish to provide, or wishes to no longer provide, incentive items to participants then the above‑50% vendor does not need to sign the new addendum and shall not provide any incentive item to a participant. Providing any incentive item to a participant without a signed and approved Incentive Addendum would be grounds for termination of the Vendor Agreement and denial of the authorization to accept and redeem FIs.
FOOD INSTRUMENT (FI) QUESTIONS
Will the checkstock used for the FIs change?
Yes. The current checkstock used for our FIs is being changed to a different checkstock to help emphasize to both participants and vendors that it reflects the new food package.
What will the new checkstock look like?
WIC’s current FI checkstock is pre-printed in a blue font; the new checkstock will be printed in a green font. WIC’s current FI checkstock has background colors of pink-green-pink; the new checkstock will have background colors of green-mauve-green. WIC’s current FI checkstock has a speckled background; the new checkstock will have a basket weave cube design. Security measures remain in effect to prevent duplication or forgeries.
What will remain the same on the new checkstock?
- The boxes at the top of the FI will remain the same. These boxes are labeled: “Individual No.”, “Participant / Parent / Guardian”, “First Day To Use”, “Last Day To Use”, and “Serial No.”.
- The California WIC logo and acronym will remain on the left side, under the above-named boxes.
- The FI serial number will remain on the right side, under the above-named boxes.
- The “Exact Purchase Price” box will remain on the right side, under the FI serial number.
- The “Authorized Signature (Sign At Purchase)” line will remain on the bottom right side, under the “Exact Purchase Price” box.
Will there be more combination FIs?
Yes. There will be many new combination FIs. Please refer to Download Food Item Number and Description List (PDF)...| Text for a list of combination FIs.
Will any foods not be included on a combination FI?
Yes. The following foods will not be included with any other food on a FI:
- Infant formula
- Infant cereal
- Infant fruits and vegetables
- Infant meats
- Fruits and vegetables
What will the fruit & vegetable FI look like?
The FI for fruits and vegetables will be printed on the same checkstock as the regular FI. The fruit & vegetable FI will not specify or require a maximum quantity of items for purchase. Instead the fruit & vegetable FI will have a maximum dollar value (the maximum allowable departmental reimbursement rate) printed on the face of the FI. The fruit & vegetable FI will specify that it is only to be redeemed for fruits and vegetables, and will not include other WIC authorized food items.
Are there any special endorsement requirements for the fruit & vegetable FI?
No. The redemption process for the fruit and vegetable FI will be the same as for all FI’s. The serial number of the fruit and vegetable FI, and the serial numbers for all other FI’s, will be submitted using the same methodologies (phone, internet VWIX, FTP electronic files) that vendors are currently using and familiar with.
Can sales tax be applied to purchases made with the fruit & vegetable FI?
Sales tax may not be applied to purchases made with the fruit and vegetable FI or any other WIC FI. However, if a participant’s purchase of fruits and vegetables exceeds the amount listed on the face of the FI and the participant elects to pay for the additional amount, then that balance is subject to any applicable sales tax.
CHECKSTAND TRANSACTION QUESTIONS
Can a participant use more than one FI at a time?
Yes. A participant can choose to redeem one or more FIs during a single shopping trip. As always, each FI transaction* -- including the fruit and vegetable FI -- must be completed entirely and separately from any other FI redeemed during that checkstand transaction.
*A checkstand transaction includes the following procedures:
The vendor will:
· check the valid use dates
· check that correct food items have been selected
· check that the quantity of the food items is an amount permitted or required by the FI
· enter the correct purchase price on the FI and present to the participant for signature
· check that the participant's signature matches one of the signature(s) on the WIC identification/authorization folder
Can the maximum rate for multiple fruit & vegetable FI’s be combined in a single amount for redemption purposes?
No. The quantity of fruits and vegetables should be divided into quantities to be associated with each fruit and vegetable FI. In other words, if a participant presents three fruit and vegetable FI’s, then the quantity of fresh, frozen and/or canned fruits and vegetables would need to be divided into three groups. It is the expectation of the WIC Program that this division would be a cooperative effort between the cashier and the participant.
Can a participant pay the difference when the purchase of allowable fruits and vegetables exceeds the value of the fruit & vegetable FI?
Yes. Because it may be difficult to accurately estimate the exact purchase price of the fruit and vegetable selections, particularly when fresh and canned or frozen items are combined in one purchase, participants will be allowed to pay the difference when the purchase price exceeds the value of the FI. Accepting payment will be required (not optional) for the vendor pursuant to their revised Vendor Agreement. Please note that the type of payment will not be specified. Since fruit and vegetable purchases would be allowable Food Stamp purchases, a WIC participant who is also a Food Stamp recipient could opt to use Food Stamp benefits for payment of the price difference. Cash, debit cards, or credit are other forms of acceptable payment. Please be reminded that participants may not be given cash or credit for any unused portion of any FI.
‘POINT-OF-SALE’ DEVICE QUESTIONS
If my store has a point-of-sale device, what do I need to be aware of?
Vendors frequently use a point-of-sale device to identify if a food item is eligible for purchase with a WIC FI. There will be many new foods to identify as authorized for purchase with a FI as of October 1, 2009. There will also be currently-authorized food items that will no longer be available for purchase under WIC’s new food package. It is important for store personnel to be aware of that the new FIs will specify different foods and/or combinations of foods that they are accustomed to transacting.
It is important to note that WIC local agencies are permitted to issue participants their FIs for a one-, two-, or three-month period. Because of this triple issuance, there will be a transition period where your store may receive FIs for currently authorized food items and also receive FIs for newly authorized food items. Because September 30, 2009 is the last day that WIC local agencies will be printing and issuing FIs reflecting the currently authorized foods, this transition period will be from October through December 2009.
What new foods should be added to my point-of-sale device as authorized WIC foods?
Many new foods will be authorized for purchase under WIC’s new food package. These foods include:
- fruits and vegetables (fresh, canned, and frozen)
- colby cheese
- mozzarella string cheese
- blends of authorized cheeses
- cranberry juice
- ruby red and pink grapefruit juices
- tomato juice
- blended juices
- soy-based beverages
- several whole grain breakfast cereals
- whole grains in the form of:
- 100% whole wheat bread (loaves, buns, and rolls)
- corn and whole wheat tortillas
- whole grain barley
- oatmeal or oats
- brown rice
- canned salmon and sardines
- containers of infant fruits and vegetables
- infant meats.
It is important to refer to the WIC Authorized Food List Shopping Guide October 2009 (PDF, English, 1.4 MB)...Spanish (1.3 MB), for exact product specifications.
What foods will be no longer authorized on WIC and need to be removed from my point-of-sale device as an authorized WIC food?
Under WIC’s new food package several currently authorized food items will no longer be eligible for purchase with a WIC FI. These food items include: acidophilus; small or medium eggs; honey nut roasted peanut butter; any 12-oz. peanut butter container; any kind of canned baked beans; American cheese; any cheese bought or sliced at the deli; random-weight cheese; any cheese package other than 16 oz / 1 lb size.
It is important to note that there will be a transition period where your store may receive FIs for these currently authorized food items in addition to FIs for the newly authorized food items. This transition period will be from October through December 2009. As always, vendors are required to sell the food item(s) that are authorized by the FI for purchase.
Are there any special point-of-sale endorsement requirements for FIs after October 1, 2009?
No. The redemption process will not change. The serial numbers for all FI’s will be submitted using the same methodologies (phone, internet VWIX, FTP electronic files) that vendors are currently using and familiar with.
MINIMUM STOCKING REQUIREMENT QUESTIONS
What is a minimum stocking requirement?
The minimum stocking requirement is an authorization criterion that must be continually met in order for a vendor to become and remain authorized. The minimum stocking requirement specifies the types and quantities of food that must be on the vendor’s shelves at all times during business hours and available for purchase by participants. This does not include food in storage or on order for delivery to the store. The minimum amount is determined to be an amount of inventory that would not be burdensome to any vendor and an amount that could be required of all vendors statewide. USDA reviewed and approved the California WIC Program’s minimum stocking requirement.
What are minimum stocking requirements based on?
Current minimum stocking requirements represent the amounts and types of food that could be purchased by one fully breastfeeding mother, one fully formula fed infant, and one child at the same time at the same vendor store location. The new minimum stocking requirements reflect the food packages for these same participant categories and the addition of the breastfed infant food package.
Will the current minimum stocking requirements change?
Yes. Minimum stocking requirements will change. New stocking requirements will be created for fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grains; and infant foods. Stocking requirements will be amended for infant formula (increased amount); tuna (increased amount); milk (increased amount and changes to the type); cheese (decreased amount); eggs (decreased amount); and juice (decreased amount). Please also refer to the WIC Authorized Food List Shopping Guide October 2009 (PDF, English, 1.4 MB)...Spanish (1.3 MB).
In the question above, it is noted that the California WIC Program will decrease the amount of cheese, eggs and juice required to be stocked by vendors. Why is this happening?
Vendors will not be required to stock as much cheese, eggs and juice because the WIC Program will provide less of these items to participants for purchase with a FI.
When will vendors be required to comply with the new minimum stocking requirements?
The new minimum stocking requirement will be effective for every authorized vendor on October 1, 2009. Thereafter, a vendor must continually comply with the new stocking requirement in order to remain authorized.
What are the new minimum stocking requirements?
Please see attachment - Vendor Minimum Stocking Requirement - Effective Oct. 1, 2009 (PDF)
Will vendors be required to sign and certify an updated “Stocking Requirement Certification”?
Yes. A revised “Stocking Requirement Certification” document will be included with the revised Vendor Agreements that will be mailed to authorized vendors this summer. Vendors will need to review and sign this form, certifying that they will continually comply with the new stocking requirements effective on October 1, 2009 in order to remain an authorized vendor. The signed and dated “Stocking Requirement Certification” will need to be returned to the WIC Program in a designated time period. Further information and exact timeframes will be provided in the envelope with this form and the revised Vendor Agreements.
Will vendors need to adhere to the new stocking requirements?
Yes. In order to remain authorized, vendors will need to adhere to the new stocking requirements. Complying with the minimum stocking requirement is considered an authorization criterion. Pursuant to federal requirements and their current Vendor Agreement, an authorized vendor must comply with all authorization criteria, including any changes, during the term of their Vendor Agreement. Failure to due so would be grounds for termination of the Vendor Agreement and denial of the authorization to accept and redeem FIs.
QUESTIONS ABOUT WIC AUTHORIZED FOOD ITEMS
In addition to referencing the WIC Authorized Food List Shopping Guide October 2009 (PDF, English, 1.4 MB)...Spanish (1.3 MB)
, please also refer to WIC Authorized Food List Shopping Guide FAQs
if you have questions about authorized foods.