Select Walmarts Will Soon Offer Online Ordering with WIC Benefits

published Dec 9, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Sarah Crowley/Apartment Therapy

Online grocery shopping has been on the rise for the last several years, with Instacart entering the scene and many grocery retailers upgrading their websites to compete. Then the pandemic happened, and hungry customers in lockdown turned to online ordering as a safer way to cross items off their shopping lists. Now, thanks to a grant from the USDA and the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (GSCN), shoppers will be able to use their WIC benefits online.

Thus far, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits have only been eligible for redeeming in person. More than six million people utilize the WIC program, and expanding into online shopping should improve access — especially for those with limited transportation options and/or limited time for shopping.

During phase one of the WIC roll-out, a few different chains will introduce online ordering in select locations. Walmart is the biggest test market, offering the WIC pilot program at eligible stores in Massachusetts and Washington. Hy-Vee, a Midwestern grocery chain, will launch in Des Moines before expanding into Nebraska and Minnesota. Buche Foods, an independent grocer based in South Dakota, is launching at two locations before expanding to additional stores in the region.

The limited release will allow the retailers and the GSCN to evaluate the program, checking for issues with implementation, watching costs, and overall gathering data. They hope to use this information to expand online ordering with WIC benefits in the future. “Households that participate in WIC should have the opportunity to shop for foods, especially those needed to address critical nutritional needs, the way anyone else shops for food, by ordering online,” said Gretchen Swanson Center Executive Director Amy Yaroch, PhD.

The timeline for launching the pilot is unclear, as it is simply said to begin “next year.” The GSCN and USDA as well as individual retailers will be releasing more information in the coming months.

WIC benefits are not to be confused with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is available to qualifying low-income households that apply. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) began launching online purchasing using SNAP EBT in 2017, and it is now widely available through retailers like Amazon, Walmart, ALDI, and more.