Time to Apply for Reauthorization as a WIC Retailer

Vermont WIC retail vendors outside of our Rutland eWIC pilot area will be receiving the authorization application package today by email. Make sure you watch for it, and contact us immediately if you don’t receive it by the end of today (March 24th). The completed application must be filed with Vermont WIC by April 15th for you to continue as an eWIC retailer for our statewide rollout beginning October 1, 2015.

There are three parts to the application package this year:

  1. The Application Questionnaire. Again, we are using SurveyMonkey(tm) to gather the application information. You’ll be able to use your internet browser to get to the survey form, and simply fill in and click through the questions.
  2. The Price Survey. Because we are moving from home delivery to retail for the entire WIC food package, we need to collect your food prices with your application.
  3. The Retail Vendor Agreement. To complete the process, you must submit a signed copy of the agreement. This is modified from the current agreement to reflect expanded food package you’ll be offering to WIC participants, and the use of eWIC for financial transactions.wIC foods 2

Some of our retail partners may not have seen much “WIC business” from the cash value fruits and vegetables card, and might not think it’s worth meeting the new standards to continue participating. We believe the experience with fruits and vegetables is not a good predictor of the expanded program, which includes all of the grocery staples: cereals, milk, cheese, and yogurt, grains and bread, baby foods and infant formulas, in addition to fruits and vegetables. (Your email will also include the Approved Products List and the Minimum Inventory requirement.)

To give you an idea of the significance of this change when the WIC food package goes retail: Vermont WIC currently spends over $10 million a year on home delivered WIC foods; the retail fruit and vegetable benefit totaled less than $500,000 a year.

The email with the application materials contains detailed instructions, but if you have any questions, please contact Patrick Henry, WIC Retail Vendor Manager at 802-951-5167.

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Updated Approved Products List Now Available

Refinements are continuing for our Approved Products List: this new release is expanded to include more brands of infant foods, and to add hot cereals and yogurt.

Here’s the link to the PDF version of the APL. babyfood

Approved_Products_List_Feb2015

(If you’d prefer the Word version, email your request to jkeller@keller-fuller.com.)

 

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Vermont’s new Approved Products List (APL) is posted

As part of moving from home delivery to retail delivery of WIC foods, Vermont WIC FinalFoodShotFromTom-crophas developed a new Approved Products List (APL) that will take effect when we move to eWIC starting with our Rutland pilot in June 2015.

We have posted this new APL on our MIS/EBT project public webpage. You can use this link to go directly to the document:

http://healthvermont.gov/wic/documents/Approved_Products_List_Jan2015.pdf

To be a Vermont eWIC retailer, each store must carry the WIC Minimum Inventory, and you must fulfill the inventory requirement with the Approved Products.

If you have any questions about this or the requirements, send an email to wic@state.vt.us.

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White Potatoes and Vermont WIC

As you may have heard, recent action by the US Congress requires that all state WIC agencies include “white” potatoes as eligible WIC foods.potatoes

What: Currently, only sweet potatoes and yams are approved by Vermont WIC. This change will add all other potatoes (white, blue, purple, gold, etc etc) as approved vegetables. Vermont will be approving only fresh potatoes, not frozen or canned potatoes.

When: States must comply by July 1, 2015. Vermont is now working on making all the changes necessary to implement the change. We are not sure of the specific date yet, but will comply by July 1.

How: Vermont WIC will provide stickers to use with your laminated cashier cards, updates to the Vendor Guide, and will update all materials on the WIC Vendor page to reflect this change. We will also use our blog http://vermontwicebt and list-serv to publicize implementation. We will be notifying WIC participants of this change in the quarterly newsletter sent out in March 201

So stay tuned about this development. IN THE MEANTIME, ONLY SWEET POTATOES AND YAMS ARE APPROVED VEGETABLES FOR Vermont WIC.

Questions? Please send them to wic@state.vt.us

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Quarterly Advisory Council Teleconference on January 8th

Our quarterly Grocer Advisory Council meeting is coming up on January 8th. We are in teleconferencethe middle of the User Acceptance Testing for our online eWIC system, vendor authorization renewals are coming up, and we preparing for the start of our Rutland regional eWIC pilot in June. Much to discuss at this meeting, so please call in to listen and/or ask questions.

Thursday, January 8 2015 – 1:00pm to 1:30pm
Call in number: 1-877-273-4202
ID Code: 520 9620 #

AGENDA – January 2015 Retail Vendor meeting

  1. Call to Order and Welcome – Patrick Henry, VT WIC
  2. Project Status – Patrick Henry, VT WIC
  3. Xerox Updates – Sylvia Mitchem, Xerox (eWIC Contractor)
  4. Vendor Authorization packets coming out to grocers – Patrick Henry, VT WIC
    a. Minimum inventory standards
    b. Application forms
    c. Selection Criteria
  5. White potatoes – Patrick Henry, VT WIC
  6. Questions and next meeting – Patrick Henry, VT WIC

Questions? Please email Patrick.henry@state.vt.us, the Vermont WIC Vendor Manager.

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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!

SnipImage

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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