National WIC Association

In Defense of WIC: The WIC Shopping Experience is a Work in Progress

March 23, 2017

You may encounter the following criticism of WIC: The WIC shopping experience is a nightmare. Here are some suggestions for how to respond if and when you encounter this claim:

Sample Talking Points:

  • Innovations to overcome some of challenges WIC participants face while grocery shopping, are currently being explored in a joint initiative by Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who are using behavioral economics in a series of projects to explore the grocery store experience.
  • WIC-related apps help lessen the burden of the shopping experience by allowing participants to scan food items and determine if the product is WIC approved.
  • By 2020, all states must transition to using EBT cards.1
  • As of January 2017, 24 states and Indian Nations have fully implemented EBT statewide.
  • The transition to EBT will reduce opportunities for fraud and abuse, ensuring WIC remains efficient and effective.
  • EBT will save time because it involves swiping a card rather than processing a check at checkout.
  • WIC shopping experiences will improve with EBT because participants will be able to combine WIC items with non-WIC items at the point of purchase rather than having to separate them.

Peer-Reviewed Literature to Corroborate these Points:

1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (2011) WIC Policy Memorandum #2011-3 Implementation of WIC-Related Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Provisions of P.L. 111-296

WIC Testimonial Refuting this Claim:

“WIC has helped our family to be healthier and make better food choices. It helps when you live so far from the main towns. Gas stations are the nearest place to get items sometimes and they usually aren’t healthy choices. So by getting our WIC foods they make it last a little longer to next time we have to go to town and get food.” -- WIC Participant, Arizona