Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) System 

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Arkansas WIC EBT

ADH successfully added SPIRIT (Successful Partners in Reaching Innovative Technology)  in 2008.  One of the major purposes of SPIRIT was to create a system that was easily transferable among states and allowed the use of EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer). SPIRIT is one of three (3) SAMs (State Agency Models) created for WIC, with the other two being Crossroads and Mountain Plains.  The SAM Project is a FNS (Food and Nutrition Services) plan to develop information systems in WIC state agencies.  The SAM Project was created based on the philosophy of “Build it once and replicate it many times.” 

The  “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” was created to improve child nutrition.  The Act requires all states to distribute WIC benefits using EBT by October 1, 2020.   Arkansas WIC is in the process of shifting from a paper-based food delivery system to an EBT system and anticipates a complete statewide rollout by the end of 2016. 

Currently, Arkansas WIC is developing a pilot program for Miller County that is expected to go live in 2015.  The pilot project will last 3 months and will provide valuable information for the statewide rollout of the WIC EBT system.

Off-line EBT

Arkansas WIC determined an off-line EBT platform provides quicker intergration time among retailers and will provide better efficiency in transactions for cashiers and repayments for retailers.  Additonally, the off-line system allows for continuous and immediate access to benefits, regardless of communication capabilities between the host server and the retailer.  

Smart cards use a microchip that contain recipient benefits, allowing for a POS (Point of Sale) system to check WIC benefits being purchased against benefits on the chip.  Smart cards are more discrete than paper benefits, making it socially appealing and providing better privacy to WIC recipients.  Also, an entire household’s benefits (up to 8 family members) are contained on a single card.  Most importantly, smart cards provide recipients the ability to purchase benefits when needed, instead of all at once.  This will reduce waste and ensure benefits are effectively used. 

Information regarding WIC EBT can be obtained through the following downloads and links, or by contacting the WIC State Office.  Vendors can click on the eWIC Vendor page for further information. 

Downloads and Links