Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) System
Arkansas WIC EBT
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 being completely statewide by the end of 2018.
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is a system that allows recipients to use authorized government benefits to pay for items. Currently, Arkansas SNAP uses EBT. Arkansas WIC EBT is in the process of being developed and will allow participants to use an electronic benefits card instead of paper checks. This will provide more freedom to participants by allowing them to purchase only those items needed without losing all remaining benefits.
Currently, Arkansas WIC is developing a pilot program for Miller and Little River Counties that is expected to begin in 2018. The pilot project will last 3 months and will provide valuable information for the rest of the state for how to best launch WIC EBT.
WIC EBT Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a smart card? - A smart card is what the WIC benefits will be loaded onto for the participant to use at the grocery store. Smart cards can hold up to 6 household members and all their benefits.
- Will SNAP benefits and WIC benefits be on the same card? - The smart card for the WIC program will be separate from the EBT card for the SNAP program.
- Will there be a training plan for WIC participants? – The video linked below will be playing in the Local Health Units prior to rollout. Staff will also have pamphlets showing how eWIC works.
- When will Staff be trained? – WIC EBT training for staff will be provided in both the regions and in the WIC State Office. Trainings all across the state will happen concurrently June 5th-July 13th. Please ask your Regional WIC Coordinator for more details.
- Who will train Staff? - The WIC Coordinators, Nutrition Coordinators, MIS Specialists and EBT Support Staff will be providing the training.
- What if we forget what we learned in training, since we are being trained weeks before the rollout? -The WIC State Office will be training regional staff to be Support EBT Staff, these staff members will be scattered throughout the region to help when we go live. Also, at the training, you will receive a training document that includes step by step quick tips to help you during rollout. Last but not least, there will be a recording of the training that you may go back and watch at any time.
- When will EBT begin in other counties? – We are planning for a statewide rollout in July 2018. All counties will go live with EBT on the same day.
- Will the participants still go to the grocery store to get their benefits? - All participants will still have to go to an Arkansas WIC authorized retailer in order to purchase their WIC items.
- Will vendors accept checks and EBT cards? - With the transition to EBT, Vendors will accept both EBT cards and checks.
- What happens if a participant loses their card? - If a participant loses their eWIC card, it will be placed on the Hot Card List and after a 3-day waiting period the Authorized Representative will be able to come in with ID to get a new one.
- Will they be able to use their smart card at the Farmer’s Market? - No. Participants will still receive Farmer’s Market checks which can be used at specified vendors at local Farmer’s Markets.
- How will the EBT smart card work at the store? - The process will be very similar to using a debit/credit card. Participants will shop for their WIC approved items as usual. At checkout, the smart card will be inserted into the reader where WIC approved items will be deducted from the balance of the benefit package on the card. Unused benefits will remain on the card and can be used at a later time. All food benefits will expire the last day of the month at midnight.
- How will benefits be loaded onto a smart card? - Benefits will be loaded onto a smart card at WIC clinics. Clerks, CPAs, and Nutrition staff will have access to a computer system that will allow benefits to be uploaded onto the card. The card will be put into a pin pad where the participant will choose a Personal Identification Number (PIN). The PIN is chosen by the participant for security purposes and to ensure benefits are only used by them. The benefits will then be loaded onto the card and once this is complete, a receipt with the food balance information on it and the smart card will be provided to the WIC participant. The WIC participant is able to immediately shop at a WIC authorized retailer.
- Who can change the PIN? -Only the Authorized Representative can change the PIN for an eWIC card.
- Will the smart card be able to have three months’ worth of benefits loaded onto it? - Yes, the smart card will have the ability to hold 3 months’ worth of benefits. Unused benefits will expire in the same way as they do with the current check system. Participants will still have to return to the WIC clinic to receive additional benefits and nutrition education
- Will participants still be able to use their checks that were already printed? –Yes, participants will still be able to use their checks until they run out and should have no reason to switch over to an EBT card early unless they have a food package change or the checks are stolen.
|Arkansas WIC Program (video)|
The purpose of the eWIC Vendor Team is “To partner with the Arkansas WIC Program in an effort to transition to EBT as efficiently and quickly as possible.” During this transition, Arkansas WIC will work to maintain strong relationships with the vendor community through eWIC Vendor Team Meetings. These meetings will provide valuable insight to current and future developments in EBT. If you are an authorized WIC vendor and are interested in participating in these meetings, contact the WIC program at ADHWICVENDOR@arkansas.gov
The eWIC Vendor Team meets during the third week of every other month via conference call. Please click below to view the meeting agendas, minutes and pictures. All authorized Arkansas WIC vendors and other representatives of the retailer community in Arkansas such as; Grocery Associations and Value Added Resellers are encouraged to participate.
Contact Brian Musick at (501) 661-2087 or Brian.Musick@Arkansas.gov to find out when the next meeting is, or to get minutes from previous meetings. To join the meeting, call toll-free 1-877-336-1831. The access code is 8951404.
Smart Card Certified Systems
Please click on the link for the list of certified point-of-sale (POS) devices to accept eWIC cards. Please contact eWIC at (501) 661-2087 for questions regarding ongoing certifications, or the steps necessary for a system to be certified