eWIC

Overview

The North Carolina WIC Program has moved from a paper-based method of WIC benefit issuance to an electronic benefit transfer system (eWIC). Instead of paper food instruments, WIC food benefits are issued into an electronic benefit account at the local WIC clinic. Families use their eWIC card and PIN to access their food benefits at the grocery store.

eWIC for Families

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 eWIC for Vendors

The North Carolina WIC Program has completed eWIC implementation statewide. Please see the information below for more details regarding North Carolina’s transition to eWIC.

Important Memoranda

Other Important Information

N.C. WIC Authorized Product List (APL)

The North Carolina WIC Program Authorized Product List (APL) (XLSX, 674 KB) has been made available for vendor/retailer review. If you have questions, concerns, or would like items removed from the list, please send us an email inquiry.

UPC Submissions

Effective July 30, 2018 North Carolina WIC program is accepting new products for consideration including brand specific items.

Prior to submitting new product, review the North Carolina WIC Program Authorized Product List (APL) (XLSX, 674 KB) to verify submission will not be a duplicate.

Refer to the NC WIC Approved Foods Nutrition Criteria (PDF, 436 KB) prior to submitting any UPC.

To make submissions, please use the web-based NC WIC Approved Product Registration form.

Please note: UPC submissions will no longer be accepted through email.

FAQs

 eWIC Frequently Asked Questions for Vendors

 1. What are the benefits of eWIC for WIC vendors?

Overall, vendors will experience labor savings because transactions require WIC customers to swipe a card, and no longer will require the counting and processing of food instruments (FIs) and cash-value vouchers (CVVs). Vendors will enjoy a more efficient check out process and receive payment faster through the Automated Clearing House (ACH). The checkout process will be less error prone  because approved foods, effective dates and benefit amounts are validated by the system and many issues related to printed FIs and CVVs will be eliminated.

 2. How will the eWIC card work at checkout?

The eWIC card will be swiped by the WIC customer and foods are scanned and approved for purchase. The family’s account is checked for adequate benefit balance. The account is debited the appropriate quantity of WIC approved foods from the family’s eWIC card. It is important to note that the order of the transaction steps will change depending on the type of cash register system used by the vendor.

 3. Are Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) and eWIC benefits on the same card?

No. FNS and eWIC cards will be separate.

 4. Is eWIC like FNS?

No. With FNS, formerly known as Food Stamps, the cardholder has a specific dollar amount benefit that can be used to purchase any FNS-approved food item. With eWIC, the WIC customer will continue to receive only specific food items which may be purchased.

 5. If I currently accept FNS EBT, can I automatically accept the eWIC card, too?

No. If you are currently an authorized WIC vendor in good standing, you will be eligible to accept eWIC cards. You may need to upgrade your existing Point of Sale (POS) equipment or get new equipment to process eWIC transactions.

 6. When will the NC WIC Program stop processing paper food instruments and cash-value vouchers?

The last FIs and CVVs will be issued for the August to September 2018 timeframe. Vendors must deposit all remaining FIs and CVVs into the bank for payment no more than 30 days after the “Last Date To Spend” listed. After December 31, 2018, paper FIs and CVVs will no longer be paid by the NC WIC Program.

 7. What should I do as a WIC vendor to get prepared for eWIC?

As a WIC vendor, you should review foods in your store to make sure that they are accurately labeled as WIC approved and ask your Point of Sale (POS) provider if your current equipment can support eWIC. If your current POS cannot support eWIC, you should ask what will be needed to support eWIC (e.g. software/equipment update).

Should vendors have any questions regarding equipment/software, please contact Solutran, our eWIC processor, via phone at 1-866-730-7746 or via email.

 8. How can I stay connected and updated with the eWIC transition?

The NC WIC Program is here to make the transition to eWIC as easy as possible. Should any vendors have any questions about eWIC, please send them through email. We will answer your questions promptly. Information about eWIC for authorized vendors will continue to be posted on this web page.

Additionally, to ensure that the concerns, suggestions and practices of WIC vendors are heard we encourage all vendors to attend the North Carolina Retailer Advisory Council Meetings held via conference call. A schedule of these upcoming calls is available on the Vendor's Connection page.

 9. Can eWIC be transacted at self-checkout stations?

No.  Self-checkout stations cannot be used to transact North Carolina eWIC.

Questions about eWIC?

Vendor-Related eWIC Questions

 eWIC for Local Agencies

Welcome to NC eWIC! Local agency eWIC resources are available to ensure eWIC rollout is a success.

eWIC Project Updates

eWIC Training for Local Agencies

eWIC Policy Resources for Local Agencies

eWIC Promotional Materials

 Promotional Materials to Use After eWIC Rollout

Welcome eWIC

NC eWIC Bnft™ Poster

eWIC Vendor Resources for Local Agencies

Interactive Local Agency Vendor Triage Form (PDF, 303 KB)

FAQs

 eWIC Frequently Asked Questions for Local Agencies

 1. Can WIC participants use eWIC with online grocery ordering?

No, WIC participants cannot use eWIC with online grocery ordering.

 2. If WIC participants receive an eWIC card at a pilot agency, can they use it in other areas of NC that haven’t rolled out yet?

Yes, but there may be a limited number of stores offering eWIC if that area has not rolled out yet. The WIC participant will be encouraged to check in with the store/local WIC agency to verify eWIC is available before shopping. Please refer to the eWIC Certified Vendors document on the nutritionnc.com/ewic website for the list of vendors that accept eWIC in NC.

 3. Is eWIC still just for use in North Carolina?

Yes, NC eWIC benefits can only be transacted in NC.

 4. Can anyone download the app to become familiar with it (local agency staff and vendor personnel)?

Anyone can download the Bnft app to their smart phone. However, an Electronic Benefits Account (EBA) must be created and eWIC card issued to set up the account using the app. Therefore, local agency staff and vendor personnel will not be able to set up accounts and see features of the app on their phones.

 5. Will the APL be sent out or only available online?

The North Carolina WIC Program Authorized Product List (APL) (XLSX, 674 KB) is currently only available online. The APL has been sent out to vendors. Updated North Carolina WIC Shopping Guides are being developed but will not be available prior to eWIC rollout. The current shopping guide (2015) should continue to be used with participants.

 6. What is the possibility of using WIChealth.org for doing Food Benefit Issuances and loading cards remotely?

The Nutrition Services Branch (NSB) is in the final stages of testing WIChealth.org and we hope that it will be fully functional during eWIC rollout. With eWIC cards are not “loaded.” Local agencies will be allowed to issue food benefits to a participant’s EBA without the cardholder being physically present for specific reasons. Details of this policy are outlined in Chapter 8, Section 3 of the NC Interim eWIC Program Manual and reviewed in the eWIC policies and procedures webinar.

 7. Will there be machines at each computer to load cards, not just at the processing assistants' computers?

With eWIC, cards are not “loaded.” Food benefits are issued to an Electronic Benefit Account (EBA) and an eWIC card is issued to the cardholder.Card readers are used to read the 16-digit card number. Any local agency WIC staff that issues eWIC cards will have an eWIC card reader. Additional card readers are available for staff that may want to use the eWIC card to search for families. The card reader is smaller than a computer mouse and can be attached to the side of your computer monitor.

 8. Will foster children have their own card so that their benefits will be kept separate from other members in the foster family?

Yes, foster children will have their own EBA that will contain their food benefits and will be issued their own eWIC card.

 9. Does eWIC update in Crossroads in real time? For example, if a participant uses their card in a store at 10 am and then contacts the WIC office at 10:15 am and states that they have lost their card, will Crossroads reflect the 10 am purchase?

Crossroads reflects eWIC purchases in real time but ONLY on the shopping list; the FI list and "Purchases under Journal Of Transactions" will not be updated until after the overnight batch process.

 10. Will the education materials that will be distributed 3 months prior to roll out explain to participants how to use multiple payment methods (WIC EBT, Food Stamps, Cash, Debit card etc.) in one transaction?

No, but training for WIC staff and educational materials for WIC participants will be provided before rollout. WIC participants should be educated on how to use eWIC when they are issued their card for the first time.

 11. Will the app that is associated with eWIC have the capability to send the participant an alert when their WIC EBT card is empty to remind them that it’s time for their card to be reload/time for their appointment?

The eWIC app (Bnft) will provide WIC participants with current food benefit balances (including zero balance). Notifications regarding when benefits will expire and account activity can be sent if selected by the participant, but the app does not communicate with the Crossroads scheduling module. NSB is in the final stages of testing the Teletask Autodialer and we hope that it will be fully functional during eWIC rollout to remind WIC participants of upcoming appointments.

 12. Will the shopping list printed for the participant have the next appointment on it?

While the shopping list will have "First Date to Spend" and "Last Date to Spend" listed for each month of benefits issued, it does not have the next appointment printed on it.

 13. How does the Parent/Guardian 2 (PG2) or Caretaker set the PIN on the eWIC card?

The eWIC card can be issued to either the PG1, the PG2 or the Caretaker. Whoever the card is issued to is the Cardholder. The PIN is created after the Cardholder provides his/her own date of birth and the zip code of the address in the record. If there is a physical address AND a mailing address, the zip code of the mailing address is used. So, if the eWIC card is issued to the PG2, the PG2’s date of birth is used to PIN the card.

 14. How many times can a participant have his/her eWIC card replaced if lost?

An eWIC card may be replaced as many times as needed. Families who need their card replaced more than three times should be encouraged but are not required to use the eWIC Customer Service system for a mailed replacement. Local staff can review the EBT Card History box on the Issue EBT Card screen to view reasons for multiple (excessive) replacements and discuss ways to reduce card replacement with the cardholder as needed.

 15. Why can eWIC cards be replaced when paper food instruments can't be replaced?

The EBT system of food benefit issuance is significantly different from a paper system. Food benefits are not on the card, instead they are stored in the participant’s Electronic Benefits Account (EBA). The eWIC card is the means of accessing their benefits in the EBA, and it is protected by a PIN. Replacing the NC eWIC card does not change the amount of food benefits remaining in the family EBA. Any current food benefits reported as missing or stolen from an EBA cannot be reissued. When participants are issued their eWIC card for the first time, they will be encouraged to handle them securely as they did their paper benefits. If a card is truly lost or stolen, it no longer means that the participant has to go the remainder of the month or three months without the benefit of the WIC food package, and police reports are no longer needed. Being able to replace the eWIC card is also a benefit for state and local staff, because we will no longer be faced with whether to replace benefits for which we cannot determine the status.

 16. When the Parent/Guardian 1 or 2 or Caretaker changes, local users should deactivate the previous eWIC card and issue a new eWIC card. If there are redeemed but irretrievable food benefits such as cans of infant formula, can users add the benefit back to the EBA or do we issue cans of formula from inventory or order from NSB?

Irretrievable formula could be re-issued from your physical inventory or ordered from NSB. Each situation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The previous eWIC card would be deactivated only if there are no other participants in the original family.

 17. If a participant has a formula change and the participant returns cans of formula, can that benefit be added back to the EBA or do we have to issue from inventory or order from NSB?

When there are formula changes for participants with eWIC, the Exchange/Increase screen is used to exchange the formula. If there is formula left in the EBA, the Quantity from EBT Account field is completed, and that formula is automatically exchanged. There is also a field on the Exchange/Increase screen for local users to add in the number of returned cans of formula. Resources will be provided prior to your rollout on how to use Exchange/Increase with eWIC.

 18. Can clinics continue to use their WIC Wallets?

You are welcome to continue using the WIC Wallets until they are gone. NSB has quite a supply in the warehouse to order. We will not be reordering any after the warehouse supply is depleted. We are working on something to eventually replace the WIC Wallets, but do not have it in place yet.

 19. Will there be someone from the state level at our local agency during our eWIC rollout week?

The Nutrition Services Branch is planning to send state level staff to most clinics that are open three or more days per week. State level staff will be contacting local WIC Directors one or two weeks before their rollout. Small clinics that are fully staffed may not need to reduce the number of appointments on Wednesday and Thursday of rollout week. Large clinics or clinics with staff shortages should continue to block off appointments for rollout. Please discuss this issue with your RNC if you have questions.

 20. If food instruments (FIs) are printed and the participant or CPA notices a mistake, the FIs must be voided, corrections made and new FIs printed. How would this be done with the eWIC card?

Once your clinic has rolled out eWIC, after the Issue button is clicked the participant’s electronic signature is obtained and Crossroads issues the aggregated food benefits to the family’s Electronic Benefits Account. A status message will appear in Crossroads stating, “EBT Benefits were sent successfully.” After issuance, Crossroads navigates to the Food Instrument List screen. Local users must use the Print Shopping List button on the bottom right of the screen to open and print the Shopping List. This list displays the Food Benefit Balance for each month of issuance. It includes the first and last date to purchase, the quantity, unit of measure and description of food item. Local users will review this list with the participant. If the user or participant notices mistakes, the benefits can be voided and reissued.

 21. What have the pilot counties used to provide participants information about their upcoming appointment?

NSB has small appointment cards that will be available for ordering to give participants and there is some room to write on the back. We do not plan to reprint the WIC wallets, however participants and agencies can continue to use the remaining inventory of WIC wallets.

 22. If we have a satellite office how should we schedule for the week of rollout?

Our experience during Pilot indicates that satellite clinics can remain open.

 23. What will participants use as a WIC ID? Will they get a WIC ID like we have used the WIC wallet or does the e-WIC card serve as the WIC ID?

WIC participants will be able to use their eWIC card as ID for food benefit issuance and subsequent certifications.


 

 

Last Modified: November 8, 2018