USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a critical resource in ensuring a strong nutritional foundation for participants. Today, USDA is taking a step to gather additional information on ways to improve and maximize usage of a key tool we provide our state partners through the release of a Request for Information (RFI) on the WIC National Universal Product Code (NUPC) Database.
As part of its commitment to strong customer service, USDA held a series of roundtables with the real experts – WIC partners at the state, local, and retail levels who operate the program every day. These listening sessions provided valuable feedback on how states use the WIC NUPC Database to shape their WIC food lists and to solicit key considerations from our stakeholders to ensure success when it comes to making updates to this important tool.
The NUPC Database serves as a centralized repository for information about WIC-approved food products and manages Authorized Product Lists (APLs) for WIC state agencies that use Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) to issue WIC benefits via a debit-type card. APLs list the nutritious foods approved by states for purchase using WIC benefits, and the database helps state agencies with EBT develop, update, and maintain their WIC food lists.
“USDA is committed to listening to our customers’ needs and responding with effective solutions,” said Pam Miller, Administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. “Incorporating feedback from our partners will ensure the NUPC Database increases information sharing between states, which reduces the administrative burden of the research that goes into APL development and shifts more time into serving WIC participants.”
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 established the NUPC Database to support EBT operations. The legislation also provided $1 million each fiscal year for NUPC Database development, hosting, hardware and software configuration, and database support.
As the October 1, 2020 deadline approaches for nationwide WIC EBT implementation, it is essential that the NUPC Database serve the needs of all program operators. USDA is always looking for ways to improve the customer service experience with innovative ideas and technologies and has found that those new approaches work best when they originate from experienced and trusted program partners.
USDA wants to hear more from on-the-ground experts who interact with the system every day. Together, with this feedback, we can ensure the NUPC Database is an excellent tool for all. All interested parties are encouraged to respond to the RFI, which is open through March 30, 2020.