COVID-19 Update for Grocers
WIC has temporarily expanded our Approved Product List (APL) to add options for some items that have been hard to find due to COVID-19. Please see the list of expanded foods for specific items that have been added and share with cashiers as a training tool.
It is very important that you update the Vermont APL into your sytem daily to ensure participants can purchase all WIC-approved foods. Families may choose bread substitutions specifically from the expanded food list if they cannot find a 16 oz package of WIC allowable bread. Regardless of the size, each package will only be deducted as 16 ounces from their Whole Grain benefit amount through May 31st, 2020.
WIC Grocer Overview
WIC approved grocery stores include:
- Large and Medium Chains
- Large and Small Independents
- 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 people become healthier;
- provide convenient access to healthy foods; and
- help assure the integrity of the WIC program’s food delivery system.
Grocers carry a full line or “market basket” of standard grocery items including: fresh, frozen, and/or canned fruits and vegetables, fresh and/or frozen meats/fish, dairy products, infant foods, 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 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:
- Participate in SNAP and be compliant with SNAP/WIC regulations
- Meet WIC-specific technology requirements
- Meet Minimum Inventory Requirements
- Have demonstrated business integrity, a sound reputation and have no serious business practice violations
- Be open a minimum of 8 hours per day, 6 days per week.
- Meet all selection criteria
- Participate in and pass an on-site visit/inspection
- Attend Grocer Training
- Review and sign the Retail Grocer Agreement
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 have EBT capability and 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).
Mandatory Minimum Inventory - The grocer must stock the mandatory minimum inventory of approved WIC foods, including 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.
Exceptions to the Vendor Selection Criteria and Minimum Stock requirement may be granted if the State Agency determines that a vendor is needed for participant's access in accordance with the State Agency's policies.
Minimum Stock Requirements Exemptions approval is for a single store location and is for the indicated product(s) or food categories only.
Competitive Prices - The applicant prices must be competitive with other authorized vendors within the same Peer Group. The grocer has competitive prices.
- 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.
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. None of the current owners, officers, or managers have been convicted of or have has a civic judgment during the last 6 years for the following:
- fraud, antitrust violations, embezzlement, or theft
- forgery, bribery, falsification, or destruction of records
- making false statements, receiving stolen property
- making false claims, or obstruction of justice
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.
- 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.
Incentive items - Provision of any incentive items (including but not limited to any food item, merchandise, or services obtained at no cost to the grocer or any food item, merchandise, or service of 1.99 or less) to WIC customers that are not offered to other customers are not permitted.
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.
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
- 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.
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 Approved Product List||October 2019|
|VT WIC Minimum Inventory Standard for Small Independent Grocers and Coops||October 2019|
Module 1: Vermont WIC and Grocers: Overview
Get to know the basics of the WIC program, your role as a WIC grocer and resources and support available. This module is appropriate for all grocer staff (corporate staff, local managers and cashiers)
Module 2: Know the WIC Foods
Learn the details of the WIC-approved foods by category and what is entailed in keeping a minimum inventory stocked in your store. This module is appropriate for all grocer staff (corporate staff, local managers and cashiers)
Module 3: Provide Excellent Customer Service
Review expectations for customer service for WIC shoppers. This module is appropriate for all grocer staff (corporate staff, local managers and cashiers)
Module 4: Process Transactions - And Get Paid!
Learn how WIC transactions are different than SNAP and what to do if a transaction fails. This module is appropriate for all grocer staff (corporate staff, local managers and cashiers)
Module 5: Monitoring and Compliance
Understand WIC’s role in monitoring grocers and violations and sanctions. This module is appropriate for corporate staff and local managers
Module 6: What Is New with VT WIC
Updated annually, learn about changes to the Approved Product List and State program updates. This module is appropriate for all grocer staff (corporate staff, local managers and cashiers)
Training Module Quiz
This training quiz can be used internally by grocers to verify staff’s understanding of the modules. Add: It is appropriate for corporate staff, local managers and cashiers
Training Module Quiz - Answer Key
The WIC Grocer Handbook describes programs rules, operations and requirements, including monitoring, sanctions and penalties.
View or download the Vermont WIC Program & Shopping Guide (also available in Nepali, Somali, Spanish and Swahili), the Vermont WIC Foods (also available in Nepali, Somali, Spanish and Swahili), and the WIC Cashier Tip Card 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.
Shopping Videos for WIC Families
The following shopping videos were developed for WIC families, particularly those new to WIC or who are having challenges shopping:
For a complete list of Authorized Grocers, visit Shopping with WIC and click on "Where to Shop".
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 or PLU code. All allowed fresh fruits and vegetables with an individual UPC code needs to be mapped to the closest PLU code or to 4469.
If you wish to be on Vermont WIC’s email distribution list please call or email us:
Product Submission Instructions
Foods currently on Vermont WIC's approved food list do not need to be resubmitted.
- For Brand Specific food categories, please submit your product for consideration between February 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 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 Foods. 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 Andrea Miller, and include the information that is requested in the Vermont Product Submission spreadhseet.
Prior to submission, please verify that your products meet requirements set forth by USDA:
- USDA Final Rule for Food Packages (federal food regulations)
- Information for Food Manufacturers regarding the WIC Food Packages
- WIC Food Packages - Regulatory Requirements for WIC-Eligible Foods
Prior to submission, please verify that your product(s) meet Vermont eligibility requirements:
- WIC Approved Products List
- Vermont WIC Foods
- Complete the applicable tab(s) in the Vermont Food Product Submissions spreadsheet.
- Provide electronic product labels for all products submitted.
- Send completed product submission form and labels to Andrea Miller by March 31st.
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.
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
- UPC number from the bar code - give all 12 numbers, including the little ones at the beginning and end.