MDCH Adopts Additional WIC Program Guidelines that Could Add New Vendors

Contact: James McCurtis Jr. (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

June 28, 2010 LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) recently changed its policy for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program that would allow MDCH to consider adding, on a case by case basis, new vendors in areas that may lack adequate WIC vendors or to improve food selection and variety.

"We want to give WIC clients the opportunity to have better food options within the neighborhoods they live," said MDCH Director Janet Olszewski. "Nutritious food is essential to a healthy lifestyle and it's important that all of our residents have access to a variety of healthy food in their community."

The Michigan WIC Program is a federal program administered in accordance with USDA regulations and an approved state plan of operation. The USDA recently approved the changes to the state policy. WIC is a Special Supplemental Food Program for women, infants and children that must function within a limited budget. As a result, the program limits the number of authorized grocers by zip code area. The approved changes allow MDCH more flexibility within the limitations of the state policy.

In order to promote greater variety and selection options of nutritious foods to WIC clients, the WIC Program may consider the addition of new vendors under very specific circumstances in areas where the maximum number of grocers has already been authorized.

The following criteria will be used as the primary guide to assist the Department in determining whether a vendor will be considered for the WIC Program under this exception:

- The vendor routinely operates at least three checkout lanes;

- The vendor routinely maintains an inventory that is at least double the inventory requirements listed in the current Mandatory Minimum Stock Requirements;

- The vendor's sale of alcohol does not exceed 30 percent of their gross sales

In addition, the Department may also consider unique circumstances and other factors such as geographical barriers, item pricing, and overall vendor product mix to make its determination as to whether a vendor should be considered under this exception.

The Department is in the process of establishing procedures that will assure consistent statewide application of the new policy.

For more information regarding the WIC Program, visit www.michigan.gov/wic.