Walmart Inc. will be one of the retailers participating in the forthcoming USDA and Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition’s WIC (Women, Infants and Children) online pilot program, under which shoppers in Massachusetts and Washington state will soon be able to use WIC benefits for pickup and delivery purchases from 85 Walmart stores in both states.
“The pilot will make it easier and more convenient for customers in Massachusetts and Washington to order and pay for WIC-eligible items online using their electronic benefits card,” the company noted in a statement in which it said it was “honored” to take part in the initiative. “Walmart has always believed that access to convenience and to fresh, quality groceries should be available to everyone, regardless of payment method. We look forward to collaborating with the Washington WIC and Massachusetts WIC agencies when the pilot goes live next year and are eager to expand this offering to even more states in the future, in the same way we’ve scaled our SNAP online purchase program.”
When the program goes live – likely in the fall or winter of 2022 – it will use Walmart’s online ordering platform at eligible stores in both states. Ultimately, the initiative will help almost 120,000 WIC participants in Washington, and 115,000 in Massachusetts securely and efficiently access their WIC benefits. The goal is to enable WIC participants to use more of their benefit every month, which will lead to healthier children and families.
Other participants in the pilot will be Hy-Vee and online WIC EBT (eWIC) processor FIS/CDP in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, and six-store independent grocer Buche Foods in South Dakota and the Rosebud Indian Reservation.
The WIC Online Ordering Grant is a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) and GSCN. A steering committee has been formed to determine the project’s direction, and to provide nuanced subject-matter expertise. Committee members include representatives from Custom Data Processing Inc. (CDP), the National Grocers Association Foundation, the National WIC Association, and USDA FNS.
According to the Omaha, Neb.-based Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, “The overarching goal of this project is to work toward establishing recommendations for the implementation of processes that allow WIC participants to use online ordering with online transactions or in-person transactions to receive their WIC food benefits.”
Walmart operates approximately 10,500 stores under 48 banners in 24 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam’s Club ranks No. 9 on the list. West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, with 86,000 employees and more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states, is No. 34 on The PG 100.