Information for Grocers

eWIC_Grocer_with_Customer

WIC Grocer Overview

WIC approved grocery stores include:

  1. Large and Medium Chains
  2. Large and Small Independents
  3. Food Coops and Small Local Grocery Stores

The grocers who are partners in WIC are very important because they:

  • Understand and support WIC’s mission;
  • help infants, children and pregnant women become healthier;
  • provide convenient access to healthy foods; and
  • help assure the integrity of the WIC program’s food delivery system.
WIC Grocers Stock the WIC Minimum Inventory and Have Competitive Prices

Grocers carry a full line or “market basket” of standard grocery items such including: fresh, frozen, and/or canned fruits and vegetables, fresh and/or frozen meats/fish, dairy products, and whole grain products such as bread, rice, and pasta.

Grocers maintain an adequate stock of WIC approved food items year round for WIC participants to purchase whenever the vendor is open for business. Specifically, the grocer must stock at least the minimum variety and quantity of foods based on large or small store size.

WIC Grocers Meet Specific Technology Requirements

WIC grocers must be able to accept WIC benefits using a Vermont WIC approved integrated or non-integrated multi-function system. Your store must either use an ECR/POS system that your Value Added Reseller (VAR) or Point of Sale Vendor has integrated and certified as WIC-enabled, or your store must install WIC-only stand-beside units. 

To become an WIC Grocer, you must:

  1. Participate in SNAP and be compliant with SNAP/WIC regulations
  2. Meet WIC-specific technology requirements
  3. Meet Minimum Inventory Requirements
  4. Have demonstrated business integrity, a sound reputation and have no serious business practice violations
  5. Be open a minimum of 8 hours per day, 6 days per week.
  6. Meet all selection criteria
  7. Participate in and pass an on-site visit/inspection
  8. Attend Grocer Training
  9. Review and sign the Retail Grocer Agreement
WIC Grocer Selection Criteria

What are the Selection Criteria for becoming a WIC grocer?

In order to be authorized as a WIC retail Grocer in Vermont, grocers must satisfy these selection criteria:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation -   The applicant must participate in SNAP. Please note that participation in SNAP satisfies only one WIC selection criteria and, by itself, shall not constitute compliance with all other necessary WIC selection criteria.

Compliance with WIC and SNAP Regulations - The owners and managers listed on the application must have an acceptable history of compliance with WIC, SNAP, and other Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Programs. 

WIC Benefits – The applicant must be able to accept WIC benefits through the use of a Vermont WIC approved integrated or non-integrated multi-function system. 

Staple Foods - The applicant must provide a variety of staple foods for sale including: fresh, frozen, and/or canned fruits and vegetables, fresh and/or frozen meats/fish, dairy products, and grain products such as bread, rice, and pasta. 

Fresh Products - The applicant must provide fresh products and maintain adequate stock of WIC approved food items year around, including infant formula (within expiration dates) in a clean and sanitary environment.

Mandatory Minimum Inventory - The grocer must stock the mandatory minimum inventory of approved WIC foods and infant formula must be available on the shelves at all times (Chains and Large Grocers; Small Grocers).  All applicants will be inspected by the WIC Program to verify that the Mandatory Minimum Inventory of WIC items are in stock.  Failure to stock and maintain the mandatory minimum inventory food items, in required quantities, after submission of a vendor application will be grounds for denial. 

NOTE: The Mandatory Minimum Inventory may be amended by the WIC Program during the Agreement period.

Infant Formula Suppliers – The applicant is required to purchase infant formula solely from a list of suppliers approved by the Vermont WIC Program.  The list of Authorized Infant Formula Suppliers includes wholesalers, distributors, and retailers authorized in Vermont, or formula manufacturers registered with the Food and Drug Administration.  No other sources may be used to obtain infant formula. Invoices for the infant formula purchase must be maintained for at least the three previous years plus the current year. 

Competitive Prices - The applicant prices must be competitive with other authorized vendors within the same Peer Group.  The grocer has competitive prices.

Demonstrated business integrity - The grocer has no serious business practice violations. There is no conflict of interest between store ownership and management, and WIC state or local agency staff.

Continuing Quality Standards:

  • Continued compliance with WIC regulations including consideration of business integrity standards.  Continued compliance with state and local sanitary codes, licensure requirements, and food safety requirements. 
  • Not-to-Exceed (NTE) - The NTE is the maximum amount that Vermont WIC will pay for specific food items identified by their Universal Product Code (UPC).  The NTE is calculated from the actual prices paid for food redeemed through the WIC Card transactions.  NTE may be reevaluated for price competitiveness at any time during the authorization period and grocers may be terminated for non-price competitiveness.
  • WIC sales volume - The state will review the volume of WIC sales at each authorized WIC grocer on a periodic basis.  Low or zero volume of WIC sales may result in loss of WIC authorization. 

Percentage of Food Sales from WIC – WIC sales cannot make up more than 50% of grocer’s total annual food sales. Applicants will not be accepted if it is expected that food sales from WIC will be more than 50% of total food sales. Currently authorized grocers’ volume of WIC redemptions will be monitored to determine if they exceed 50% of total annual food sales. 

Minimum Lane Coverage – Stores with three or more cash registers are required to have an integrated system and equip all cash registers with the software to process WIC benefits.  Stores with one to two cash registers must equip one cash register if the monthly WIC sales is less than or equal to $8,000 or both cash registers if the monthly sales exceed $8,000.   

E-Mail Address – The applicant must have an e-mail address to do business with the Vermont WIC Program.  Failure to have and/or maintain an e-mail address for the store will be grounds for denial or termination of the Grocer Agreement.

Training - The applicant must agree that the manager of the store or an authorized representative, such as the person at the store who is responsible for WIC, will attend WIC training sessions as scheduled by the Vermont WIC Nutrition Program.  The applicant must agree to train all staff using WIC approved training materials. 

If you'd like to apply to be a WIC grocer, you must understand the rules and regulations. WIC’s Grocer Handbook includes program information and Grocer Rules that all authorized WIC Grocers agree to follow.

Apply to be a WIC Grocer

VT WIC Retail Grocer Application

The Vermont WIC Program is accepting applications for the authorization period beginning October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2021. Current authorized WIC Grocers and new Grocers may apply.

Applicants must meet all selection criteria to become an authorized WIC Vendor. Only grocers that are authorized as WIC Grocers by the State of Vermont WIC Program may redeem Vermont WIC benefits.

The applicant must submit a complete and accurate grocer application. Inaccurate or incomplete information in the grocer application or price list may be cause for denial or later termination or/and disqualification from the WIC Program.

How to Apply?

Complete and submit the Vermont WIC Retail Grocer Application. This application collects required store information and key contacts. 

NEW grocers will complete a price survey.  After we receive your on-line application, we will send you a separate Excel spreadsheet containing the price survey.

In addition to meeting all selection criteria and completing all parts of the application, the authorization process includes:

1 - Training

New grocers must attend training before initial authorization. All authorized grocers participate in annual training and must agree to train all staff using WIC approved training materials.

2 - Site visits to your store

Once an application for a new grocer is complete and the grocer satisfies selection criteria, WIC staff will schedule a site visit to review:

  • Handicap accessibility
  • Minimum inventory requirements
  1. Large grocery stores, Chains and large Co-ops
  2. Small grocery stores and small Co-ops
  • Full service grocery status
  • Sanitary and safety conditions
  • Store staff knowledge about WIC requirements

WIC staff will complete a preauthorization site visit checklist with the grocer/owner/store manager. The completed, signed checklist will become part of the application.

Current authorized grocers complete a site visit at least once during the 3-year agreement period.

3 - Finalizing the written Retail Grocer Agreement

The Retail Grocer Agreement must be signed by a company representative legally authorized to execute the agreement, and it must be returned to Vermont WIC to have a complete application.

Multi-store corporations must complete an application for each store location; but will sign a single agreement with an appendix listing information about each location covered by the agreement.

Note: WIC Grocer authorization cannot be transferred from one owner to another, a new application must be submitted.

Thank you for your interest in the Vermont WIC Program.

Questions: Contact the WIC Vendor Unit at 1-800-649-4357 or (802) 652-4183.  You can also send an email to WIC@Vermont.gov attention: WIC Vendor Manager.

Fair Hearings

If a Grocer Application is rejected for any reason except incompleteness and a grocer wishes to appeal the decision, the grocer must request a fair hearing by writing within 30 days of receiving the non-selection letter to the following address

WIC Grocer Manager
Vermont Department of Health
WIC Nutrition Program
108 Cherry Street, Suite 302
Burlington, VT 05401
Vermont WIC’s Approved Product List, Minimum Inventory Requirements and UPC data base
Materials for Grocers
  • The WIC Grocer Handbook describes programs rules, operations and requirements, including monitoring, sanctions and penalties.
  • View or download the VT WIC Program and Food Guide as a reference for staff training, or order print copies from WIC.
  • Shelf tags (order only) email WIC at WIC@Vermont.gov If you want to develop and use your own shelf signs, you must first obtain permission from the state office. Email WIC at WIC@Vermont.gov with your request and attach a copy of your draft materials.
List of Authorized Grocers

For a complete list of Authorized Grocers, visit Shopping with eWIC and click on "Where to Shop". 

Product Submission for Food Manufacturers

Thank you for choosing to submit your product to the Vermont WIC Program for consideration. We select foods for inclusion in the Vermont Food Guide based on federal regulations, statewide availability, packaging and cost. Not all food submissions will be approved.

Vermont provides food benefits through an Electronic Benefits Transfer system. All eligible products require a UPC code, with the exception of all fresh fruits and vegetables. All allowed fresh fruits and vegetables must be mapped to the PLU 4469 regardless of their individual UPC or PLU.

If you wish to be on Vermont WIC’s email distribution list please call or email us:

Vermont WIC Program
Phone: 802-863-7333
800-649-4357 (in Vermont)
WIC@Vermont.gov  Attn: Jackie

Product Submission Instructions

Foods currently on Vermont WIC's approved food list do not need to be resubmitted.

Submission Timeline

  • For Brand Specific food categories, please submit your product for consideration between December 1st and March 31st for inclusion beginning October 1st.   
  • For Non-Brand Specific foods that meet Vermont WIC standards, please submit at any time for immediate inclusion in our UPC database. 

Categories

Categories in the Vermont WIC Food Guide are either Brand Specific or Non-Brand Specific:

  • Brand Specific Foods – These products are identified by brand in the Vermont WIC Program and Food Guide. Current Brand Specific Food categories include Cheese, Tofu, Soymilk Beverage, Yogurt, Peanut Butter, Whole Grain Bread, Whole Wheat Pasta, Whole Wheat Tortillas, Breakfast Cereal (cold and hot), Juice, and Infant Foods.
  • Non-brand Specific Foods – These products are not specified by brand in the Vermont WIC Program and Food Guide but are considered ‘Any Brand Allowed.’ Current non-brand specific food categories include: Milk, Eggs, Beans, Canned Fish (Chunk Light Tuna, Sardines and Salmon) and Brown Rice. Manufacturers may submit products that meet eligibility requirements as they become available. Please email Jackie Charnley, and include the information that is requested in the Vermont Product Submissions spreadsheet

Submission Requirements

Prior to submission, please verify that your products meet requirements set forth by USDA:

Prior to submission, please verify that your product(s) meet Vermont eligibility requirements:

Note: It is the responsibility of the submitter to notify the Vermont WIC Program of all changes and the effective date of each change to a product included in the Vermont Food Guide and in our UPC database, including, but not limited to, UPC, package design, container size, ingredients, and/or discontinuance of a product or eligible size.

If you have any questions or for more information, contact WIC@Vermont.gov. 

Not a WIC Food But Should Be?

If you find a food item that, according to the Vermont Food Guide, should be allowed, but the UPC does not debit from a WIC account, send us an update request. We may have missed a UPC so the product is not scanning properly.

Here’s what you can do:

Send an email to WIC@Vermont.gov and include the following information:

  • Product name
  • Package size
  •  Price
  • UPC number from the bar code - give all 12 numbers, including the little ones at the beginning and end.