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WIC Supports Online Ordering and Transactions in WIC

EO Guidance Document #
FNS-GD-2021-0117
Resource type
Technical Assistance & Guidance
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
DATE:November 2, 2021
SUBJECT:The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supports Online Ordering and Transactions in WIC
TO:Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All FNS Regional Offices
WIC State agency Directors
All WIC State agencies

Dear WIC State Agency Directors,

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is committed to supporting WIC state agencies that are pursuing online ordering and online transactions. Bringing these shopping innovations to our participants is expected to improve the WIC shopping experience, increase equity in the program by allowing participants to shop like all other shoppers, and increase WIC benefit redemptions.

Last year, FNS awarded $2.5M to the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (GSCN) to develop resource materials for state agencies interested in pursuing online ordering and transactions, and to award sub-grants to WIC state agencies for innovative projects to test online ordering and transactions. Additional information on the WIC Online Ordering Grant with GSCN can be found at GSCN’s website.

In support of innovative projects, FNS will consider state agency waiver requests for online ordering and transaction projects under authority granted by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (PL 117-2, ARPA). To request ARPA waivers for online ordering and transaction projects, WIC state agencies must submit a formal written request that includes the following information:

  • A brief summary of the online ordering and transaction project, including the type of innovation or modernization being implemented or tested, and how the state agency will consider the Blueprint for WIC Online Ordering Projects in its project development;
  • A statement that reads as follows: “Consistent with American Rescue Plan Act (PL 117-2), this project is intended to carry out an innovation and/or program modernization effort, to increase participation in and redemption of benefits in the program.”;
  • Anticipated Start Date (Month/Year) and Completion Date (Month/Year);
  • The specific regulatory and/or statutory provision(s) requested to be waived to implement a successful project. For each regulatory and/or statutory provision requested to be waived, the State agency must provide:
    • The rationale for the requested waiver, identifying why the regulatory/statutory requirement cannot be met within the project and the specific flexibilities requested.
    • How the state agency will ensure the waiver, if approved, will not risk the purpose or integrity of the WIC program.
      • 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.
  • As applicable, any additional documentation the State agency deems necessary to support the waiver request.

State agencies must submit all written waiver requests to their respective regional offices as part of the state plan amendment process, as outlined at 7 CFR 246.4(c). Per 7 CFR 246.4(a), FNS will provide written approval or denial of a complete state plan amendment within 30 days of receipt. FNS reserves the right to request additional information if an amendment is deemed incomplete or in order to ensure the request is consistent with the authority provided in ARPA. Please note that the waiver authority provided under ARPA does not apply to the content of the WIC Food Packages (as defined in 7 CFR 246.10(e)) or nondiscrimination requirements at 7 CFR 246.8.

As always, we thank you for your service to our participants. Please feel free to reach out to your regional office with any questions about this ARPA waiver request process or for technical assistance on online ordering and transactions in WIC.

Amy Herring
Acting Director
Supplemental Food Programs Division

Page updated: February 13, 2024

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.