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As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) received $390 million for outreach, innovation and modernization in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).

Consistent with ARPA, the primary objectives of WIC and FMNP ARPA work are:

  • Increase WIC’s participation rate through increased enrollment, retention of participants for the full length of their eligibility, and an improved participant experience.
  • Increase redemption of benefits.
  • Reduce disparities in program delivery.

FNS is investing in WIC outreach and modernizing the program by: prioritizing outreach, improving the shopping experience, investing in and diversifying the WIC workforce, and modernizing technology and service delivery. As we modernize, FNS will emphasize equity, striving to eliminate long-standing disparities in maternal and child health.

Learn more about each priority area by clicking on the icons below.

Prioritizing Outreach icon

Prioritizing Outreach

Improving WIC Shopping icon

Improving the Shopping Experience

Investing in the WIC Workforce icon

Investing in and Diversifying the Workforce

Modernizing Technology and Service Delivery icon

Modernizing Technology and Service Delivery

Flexibilities to Support Outreach, Innovation, and Modernization

Through ARPA, USDA received waiver authority to support WIC and FMNP outreach, innovation, and modernization. Waivers are currently available to support WIC online shopping and ARPA funded projects.

Check below for state agencies that have been granted certain waivers.

Refunds or Exchanges

7 CFR 246.12(h)(3)(ii)(A), which prohibits WIC vendors from providing unauthorized food items, nonfood items, cash, credit, refunds, or permitting exchanges for authorized supplemental foods obtained with food instruments or cash-value vouchers, except for exchanges of an identical authorized supplemental food item.

The waiver of this provision only allows the vendor to return electronic benefits to participants’ benefit balances through a refund or void process. Refunds of cash or credit, or product exchanges that do not comply with this regulation, are not allowed under this waiver. Exchanges of an identical authorized supplemental food item is allowed under this waiver.

As this requirement must be included in the state agency’s vendor agreements per 7 CFR246.12(h)(3), [state agency] WIC should work with its legal counsel to determine whether additional action is needed at the state level to waive this requirement.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • South Dakota
  • Washington

Time periods for transacting food instruments and cash-value vouchers

7 CFR 246.12(h)(3)(iv), which requires WIC vendors to only accept food instruments or cash-value vouchers within a specified time period.

The waiver of this provision must only be used to allow for additional time to transact benefits when they are returned through a refund or void process close to the last date of use as specified by [state agency] project.

As this requirement must be included in the state agency’s vendor agreements per 7 CFR 246.12(h)(3), [state agency] WIC should work with its legal counsel to determine whether additional action is needed at the state level to waive this requirement.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
Last date of use

7 CFR 246.12 (x)(2)(iii), which requires the last date electronic benefits may be used to obtain supplemental foods to be a minimum of 30 days from the first date.

The waiver of this provision must only be used to allow for additional time to transact benefits when they are returned through a refund or void process close to the last date of use as specified by [state agency] project.

As this requirement must be included in the state agency’s vendor agreements per 7 CFR 246.12(h)(3), [state agency] WIC should work with its legal counsel to determine whether additional action is needed at the state level to waive this requirement.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Washington

Signature on food instruments and cash-value vouchers

7 CFR 246.12(h)(3)(vi), which requires that WIC transactions (including either the signing of a paper food instrument or cash-value voucher, or the entering of a Personal Identification Number (PIN) in EBT systems) occur in the presence of a cashier.

For security reasons, this waiver does not allow the state agency to allow vendors or vendor representatives to conduct WIC transactions by obtaining a participant’s EBT card number and PIN over the phone or through physical hand-off.

As this requirement must be included in the state agency’s vendor agreements per 7 CFR 246.12(h)(3), [state agency] WIC should work with its legal counsel to determine whether additional action is needed at the state level to waive this requirement.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Chickasaw Nation
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Washington
Definitions

7 CFR 246.2, specifically the requirement in the definition of vendor that each store must have a single, fixed location.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Massachusetts
  • Washington
Onsite Preauthorization

7 CFR 246.12(g)(5), which requires state agencies to conduct an on-site visit prior to or at the time of a vendor’s initial authorization. This waiver waives the requirement that this activity is conducted on site at the vendor’s location.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Massachusetts
  • Washington
Statewide operations

7 CFR 246.12(aa)(4)(i) which prohibits a WIC state agency from paying ongoing maintenance, processing fees or operational costs for any vendor, farmer or farmers' market utilizing multi-function systems and equipment, after completion of statewide EBT implementation.

This waiver only applies to the prohibition of payment for the operational costs necessary to develop the eWIC module, as proposed in the state agency’s eWIC Integration Shopping Experience Improvement Grant.

The WIC state agency may not pay for on-going maintenance, including upgrades, or processing fees. The WIC state agency may work with the vendor applicant to become EBT capable and utilize the two step application process as discussed in question IV.d of the Questions and Answers on the WIC EBT Final Rule.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Wisconsin
Operating Rules*

7 CFR 246.12(bb)(1)(i), which requires state agencies, contractors, and authorized vendors participating in WIC to follow and demonstrate compliance with operating rules, standards, and technical requirements. The state agency has requested, and FNS approves, the waiver of the following operating rules only:

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • South Dakota
Operating Rule 4.7.1.b*

Operating Rule 4.7.1.b, which does not allow for minimum purchase amounts or quantities to be required for WIC participants.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • South Dakota
Operating Rule 9.1*

Operating Rule 9.1, which outlines specific PIN security requirements.

State Agencies with Approved Waivers:

  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  • South Dakota

*Note: State agencies requesting waivers from the Operating Rules (OR) and Technical Implementation Guide (TIG) must request a waiver from 7 CFR 246.12(bb)(1)(i) and provide the specific OR and/or TIG citations, as appropriate.

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