November Project Update

State IT team members from DII, AHS and the Health Department worked with our contractors Ciber and Xerox through October and November to prepare for and conduct Contractor-to-Contractor (C2C) testing. This phase assured that messaging networkingand batch files between Ceres (now hosted on VT servers) and Xerox was configured and functioning correctly. A huge thank you to all involved; during November this important pre-UAT testing phase often involved daily telephone conferences and prodigious trouble shooting. It appears at this writing (Dec 10th) that due to the diligent work, this phase will be completed on schedule by mid-December. Again, Vermont WIC expresses deep gratitude for the persistence and dedication of our IT staff.

Meanwhile, Vermont WIC state staff completed all required configurations of Ceres in preparation for UAT. Food rules and food packages, the Approved Products List with UPCs and Not-to-Exceed pricing limits, VT WIC staff and their security roles in Ceres, all nutrition education configurations and other configurable elements are ready for testing starting in January. This huge milestone was celebrated with cake and frozen yoghurt, and a reminder that work will start up again in January on configuration updates due in May 2015 for the Production phase.

Xerox began contacting Vermont’s authorized retailers to discuss the technical debit_Imagerequirements for integrated eWIC, and also to offer stand-beside technology to those retailers who won’t be ready for integrated eWIC by pilot in Rutland May 2015, or by rollout to the rest of the state starting in October 2015. State WIC staff is monitoring the integration activity, as FNS procedures now require state WIC agencies to “certify” that retailer systems are eWIC operational prior to Production phase. We anticipate these certification activities will begin in March 2015 to prepare for Rutland pilot. The three major grocery chains in our network (Price Chopper, Hannaford, and Shaws) will all be ready for certification shortly. Xerox will work with Dumac, the IT contractor for Mac’s Markets and for the many small grocers affiliated with Associated Grocers of New England, in order to facility integrated eWIC for all of those retailers. Our shared goal with Xerox is to launch eWIC with as many integrated retailers as we can, and minimize the number of grocers using stand-beside technology.

State WIC staff began planning and preparation for the 2015 reauthorization of our grocer network. New selection criteria and minimum inventory requirements were adopted. Application packages will be sent to statewide chains and Rutland area grocers in January 2015, and authorization must be completed in time for pilot starting June 2015. The rest of the network will receive their application packages in March 2015 for completion of the process by September 30, when current agreements expire.

State WIC staff started development of a toolkit for District Offices called the Vermont Ceres/eWIC Readiness Toolkit (V-CeRT), to aid the DOs in their preparation to convert to Ceres and eWIC. Modeled after the toolkit used in Oregon for conversion from WIC checklistvouchers to eWIC, the Vermont toolkit serves the double duty for our change from a paper record WIC to the electronic Ceres MIS, and from home delivery to eWIC. V-CeRT will include timelines, checklists, and guides for the DOs to prepare themselves and DO staff, as well as participants, local partners, and other regional and local state agency staff for the coming changes. The WIC director also established a task force of DO WIC directors and supervisors to help identify clinic flow changes and DO needs for conversion and rollout.

WIC also has contracted with a communications firm to design participant education materials. We are very excited about some of their ideas, which include developing videos explaining eWIC and the WIC card, using the “whiteboard” animation techniques used in some national ad campaigns.

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Grocer Authorization Standards for 2015-2018 are Posted Here

Click on this link to open our new Grocer Authorization Standards that will go into effect for our agreements with retail grocers starting in 2015.

https://vermontwicebt.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/grocerauthstds_final_201411101.pdfwIC foods 2

The standards include a new Minimum Inventory of WIC Foods requirement, covering the entire WIC food package. Retailers who want to be authorized to accept the new Vermont WIC card in 2015-2016 should become familiar with the new standards right away.

Email any questions to wic@state.vt.us, subject line: “Grocer Auth Standards.”

 

 

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eWIC Retailer Timeline – Check out what you need to do to be ready for Vermont eWIC!

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If you want to download a printable version of this calendar, click HERE.

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Minutes of Quarterly Meeting are Posted

The minutes of our Quarterly Retailer Advisory Council meeting are posted. The minutes contract signatureinclude

  • a detailed description of the plans for readying Vermont WIC retailers for eWIC
  • the plans and schedule for the 2015 reauthorization for WIC and
  • the state-wide roll-out schedule (that is, the schedule for when each District Office starts issuing eWIC cards, and therefore the schedule by which retailers will need to be ready to accept those cards)

Click HERE to open the minutes.

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Retailer Advisory Council Teleconference 10/9/14 at 1:00 pm

Our quarterly Retailer Advisory Council Teleconference is coming up this week on Thursday, October 9th. teleconference

Representatives from Xerox will be presenting their schedule and plan for contacting all interested retailers to prepare you for eWIC in Vermont, piloting in May 2015, and rolling out statewide beginning in October 2015.

This is a very important introduction to our “retailer enablement” project!

Quarterly Vermont WIC Retailer Advisory Council Teleconference
Thursday October 9, 2014 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm

AGENDA

1 Call to Order and Welcome
2 Overview of Xerox Retailer eWIC Readiness Plan
3 Results of 2014 Site Visits
4 Schedule for 2014 Retailer Reauthorization
5 Questions and Next Meeting

TO JOIN THE CALL:
Call-in number: +1 (877) 273-4202
Conference room number: 544 73 08 #

1. Call the call-in number
2. Enter Conference Room Number, press #
3. Hold and you will be placed into the call.

All current WIC retailers and other interested folks are welcome to join our toll-free 30-minute call.

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VT WIC Grocer Newsletter September 2014

GrocerNewsletter_2014_09_FINAL

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SNAP Retailer Training Guide available online

Here at Vermont WIC we frequently get calls and emails with questions that apply to thePages from Retailer_Training_Guide-5 SNAP (formerly food stamps) EBT program, known in Vermont as 3squaresVT. Vermont WIC does use the same FIS EBT transaction system as 3squaresVT, but our program rules are very different.

We have located a SNAP Retailer Training Guide that may be of assistance to those of you with questions about SNAP/3squares rules. It is posted on the USDA website, and is in PDF version for easy printing:

http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/Retailer_Training_Guide.pdf

Of course we welcome your questions and concerns about the Vermont WIC program rules and operations. Email us at wic@state.vt.us.

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SNAP Retailers and EBT Equipment

(Vermont WIC has been receiving calls and questions about recent communications received regarding the SNAP program. While the SNAP program is operated by USDA and Vermont’s Department of Children and Families, WIC is operated by the Vermont Department of Health, so our rules, regulations and policies are different. However, Vermont WIC does currently use the SNAP platform for our fruit and veggie EBT card, which means that changes to the SNAP infrastructure do have an impact on Vermont WIC also. A retailer who wants to accept WIC EBT cards for fruits and vegetables must also be able to accept SNAP cards. Therefore, we are reprinting an article of interest. This article is reprinted with permission in its entirety, and without editorial changes, from the August newsletter of the Vermont Retail Grocers Association. We thank the VRGA for allowing us to reprint their article.)

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SNAP Retailers must Pay For Their Own Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Equipmentdebit_Image

Retailers will no longer be offered free EBT equipment, supplies and related services (“EBT equipment and services) to participate in SNAP. Such SNAP-authorized retailers should arrange for lease or purchase of EBT equipment and services as soon as they can in order to ensure continued participation in SNAP. If you are  retailer utilizing free EBT processing equipment from FIS (Previously J.P.Morgan), they will begin charging fees beginning August 1, 2014. As an alternative to continuing with the FIS supplied equipment and paying the new processing fees (which are high by industry standards), you may want to check with your current credit card processor to see if they can process your EBT transactions and if so, how much are the fees.

VRGA currently has a relationship with: Michele Coons, CPP, Member Services Manager, Retail Council of New York State, 258 State Street, Albany, NY 12210. (518) 465-3586 \ (800) 442-3489.

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Minutes of quarterly July 2014 Retail Advisory Council are posted

Click on the “Minutes” link for the 2014-07-10 Grocer Advisory Council, in the right hand notescolumn, to read about the meeting. We introduced our new EBT contractor – Xerox, detailed the implementation timeline, and announced that Rutland will be our pilot District Office.

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Vermont Department of Health receives national accreditation

The Vermont Department of Health is among the first five state health departments to achieve national accreditation by the  awardPublic Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). The national accreditation program works to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of the nation’s Tribal, state, local and territorial public health departments.

“I am very proud to say that Vermont is one of the first state health departments to achieve this distinction,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “This means we have demonstrated that Vermonters are served by a high performing public health department and workforce at our central offices and laboratory in Burlington, and through our 12 district offices around the state. We are working for your health every day.”

The national accreditation program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation’s more than 3,000 governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. To become accredited, a health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures. To date, five statewide health departments – Florida, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Washington and Vermont – and 39 local health departments have been accredited.

“As one of the first state health departments established in the country, we have been working to protect and promote the health of Vermonters for more than 125 years, and we are proud to continue this long tradition,” said Dr. Chen. “By continuing to strengthen our leadership and partnerships, services and performance, we can be sure we are meeting the present and future public health needs of our state as effectively as possible.”

The Vermont WIC Program, one of the most wide-reaching programs within VDH, is proud to have contributed to this accreditation effort. We thank all of WIC’s friends in Vermont for ongoing support.

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