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Texas WIC Temporary Increase: WIC Cash Value Benefits

Dear Texas WIC Vendor Community,

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, WIC participants will receive an increase of cash value benefits (CVB). This means participants will be able to purchase more fruits and vegetables at authorized Texas WIC vendors. 

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Kroger trades $250,000 for naming rights to UNT's food pantry

Norah Shazad, a University of North Texas sophomore, is one of two student employees working at the newly renamed UNT Food Pantry.

She was present Thursday for the official announcement that Kroger would financially support the pantry for the next five years, which included money for both student workers’ pay.

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Last Day to Register for FMI DC Virtual Fly In (Food Retailers)

Food Council Members,

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Texas WIC Update: Winter Storm Supply Issues

Winter Storm Supply Issues
Dear WIC Vendor Community,

Texas WIC appreciates our vendor community for trying to maintain business operations during the severe winter storms across Texas this week. We understand the variety of issues you are managing during these unprecedented times and we are hopeful that warmer weather in the days ahead will help correct these issues. If you anticipate long term issues related to the topics below, please notify the Vendor Management and Operations (VMO) Unit at [email protected]:
• Restocking store shelves
• Damage to your store
• Unable to restore power
• No supply deliveries

Texas WIC is ready to assist our vendor partners. Should you have any questions regarding this Vendor News Flash, please contact the VMO’s Vendor Outreach Branch at [email protected] or
1-800-252-9629. Find more WIC vendor resources on our website at bit.ly/TexasWICVendors







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Additional SNAP funding effective Jan 19

The Texas Health and Human Services agency announced additional funding for SNAP participants effective Jan. 19.  A 15% increase in SNAP benefits was a part of the recent COVID relief legislation passed by Congress.  The 15% is on top of the additional action of taking the SNAP funds to the maximum for family size.  The additional 15% will be added to Lone Star Cards between Jan. 19 and Jan. 22 depending on the County.  SNAP retailers will see increased business on the Lone Star Card. It is estimated the additional funds will be around $10 million.  In February, the additional 15% will continue but the distribution dates will be back to normal.

Federal Adjustments to Civil Money Penalties

Dear WIC Vendor Community,

Recent changes to the Civil Money Penalty (CMP) Inflation Adjustment for 2020 have resulted in an increase to CMPs for the Texas WIC Program.

Effective January 1, 2021, state policy WV: 1.0 will reflect the increased maximum CMP amounts the state agency will collect from a vendor in lieu of disqualification.

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Texas WIC approves new cereals

Dear Texas WIC Vendor Community,

The Texas WIC program is pleased to announce four new breakfast cereals will be available for WIC participants to purchase, beginning January 4, 2021.

 

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HEB Now Accepting SNAP EBT for Curbside

H-E-B is now accepting SNAP EBT payments for its Curbside and Home Delivery orders directly on the My H-E-B mobile app and heb.com. At all H-E-B Curbside and Home Delivery locations, customers can now use SNAP EBT to digitally pay for their orders for pick-up at the store or delivery to their homes.

To use the service, customers must create an account on the My H-E-B app or heb.com. During sign up, they will enter their SNAP EBT and other payment info. Once registration is complete, they can place an order and simply choose SNAP EBT during check out where they also will be required to enter their PIN. A credit, debit or gift card will need to be used to pay for items and fees not SNAP EBT eligible.

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Texas WIC Policy Revisions

Policy Revisions/Summary of Changes for WV: 03.0, 05.0, & 08.0

Dear WIC Vendor Community,

Texas WIC has revised the following vendor policies effective on November 1, 2020:

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The Pandemic Has Changed the Way We Shop at Grocery Stores

Grocery stores have really experienced a year like no other.

Stay at home orders put a lot of pressure on the supply chain and the pandemic has formed some new buying habits in shoppers that might be around to stay.

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H-E-B Continues To Aid MD Anderson Cancer Center Through Fundraisers

H-E-B is once again joining with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in an effort to end cancer in Texas, across the nation and around the world. Through Tuesday, Sept. 8, H-E-B customers can make $1, $3 and $5 donations during H-E-B’s fifth annual statewide fundraising campaign. Since the launch in 2016, H-E-B has raised more than $1 million in support of cancer research and patient programs at MD Anderson.

Donations can be made during checkout at H-E-B stores throughout Texas. New this year, customers also can donate at self-checkout registers and online or via the My H-E-B mobile app.

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New WIC Approved Foods for FY21

New WIC Approved Foods for FY21

Dear WIC Vendor Community,

Starting October 1, 2020, the Texas WIC Program will add new WIC approved foods to and remove some WIC approved foods from the Authorized Product List (APL).

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Texas WIC Vendor Quarterly Webinar

Texas WIC Vendor Quarterly Webinar

Dear WIC Vendor Community,

Join us for the Texas WIC Vendor Quarterly Webinar for the latest updates.

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SNAP Online Pilot Program

Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas Added to Innovative SNAP Online Pilot Program
USDA is expanding access to innovative online food purchase program

(Washington, D.C., April 21, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced approval of requests from Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. This approval will allow the States to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. Kentucky’s SNAP participation is over 500,000 individuals, more than 225,000 households, and totals nearly $750 million annually in federal funding. Missouri’s SNAP participation is nearly 650,000 individuals, nearly 300,000 households, and totals nearly $1 billion annually in federal funding. Texas’ SNAP participation is over 3.2 million individuals, more than 1.4 million households, and totals nearly $5 billion annually in federal funding. This announcement further demonstrates President Trump’s whole of America approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring those affected are fed.

Background:
The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. The authorized retailers working with all pilot states are Amazon and Walmart, while Wrights Market and ShopRite are working with Alabama and New York respectively. USDA previously announced Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia would also be joining. With these 16 states, more than half of all households receiving SNAP will have access to online purchasing.

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is receiving interest to expand the SNAP online pilot program, the responsibility is on state agencies, their third-party processor, and any retailers who wish to participate. To ease the process, FNS put together a simplified template for states who wish to enter the online pilot which is provided as an attachment to this letter.

USDA continues to provide significant technical assistance to interested states to ensure that plans are thorough and appropriate preliminary testing is conducted. If not done properly and judiciously, there is a risk to the State’s entire benefit system. Each State, its EBT processor and retailers present their own mix of challenges so FNS is providing customer service based on each of their specific needs.

FNS will continue to work with interested states in advancing their participation in this pilot. Until States are prepared to operate the pilot, USDA recommends States utilize other options that retailers may already provide, such as Pay at Pick-up (also known as “Click and Collect”), where SNAP cardholders can shop online and then pay for their purchase using their EBT card at pick-up. Grocery pickup is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the growing concerns around social distancing.

During these challenging times, FNS is working hand-in-hand with state program leadership, to provide support and guidance to adapt to the challenges of this public health emergency. USDA intends to use available program flexibilities and contingencies to continue to serve our program participants. For up to date information and to learn more about flexibilities being used in FNS nutrition programs, please visit the FNS website.

Majority of Americans Still Braving Physical Retailers

As Americans begin to adapt to social distancing measures as a new normal amidst the Covid-19 crisis, the majority are still visiting physical retailers to pick up their essentials. In fact, consumers report grocery and big box stores as some of their top in-store shopping destinations today (72 percent and 69 percent of respondents, respectively), according to a new survey by shopping rewards app, Shopkick.

Shopkick surveyed more than 26,000 consumers across the country between March 31 and April 6 to gain insights into consumers’ in-store shopping behaviors in light of the current crisis.

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WIC/SNAP: EBT Outage Notifications

As part of continuous systems updates, the EBT-4 vendor may have planned outages.  Retailers can sign up to receive email or text message notifications about Texas EBT-4 planned outages at: 

https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/TXHHSC/subscriber/new

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Texas WIC Vendor Monitoring Suspended

Dear Texas WIC Vendor Community,

Due to the flexibilities around monitoring permitted by USDA, Texas WIC Vendor Management and Operations Unit (VMO) is immediately suspending the following activities:

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Coronavirus WIC Update

    The Texas Health & Human Services Commission will be publishing a Vendor News Flash in the near future regarding WIC purchases during this critical time due to measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

-Suspending LEB requirements.  Retailers may sell any items in the LEB category that are on the APL and on the customers’ prescription without fear of an LEB violation (the 85% policy).

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USDA Office of Food Safety Statement to Industry

Statement to Industry
March 16, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is rising to meet the challenges associated with the new coronavirus disease, Covid-19. As leaders of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Marketing Service, we can assure you that the agencies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our employees while still providing the timely delivery of services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farm to fork.

These agencies are prepared to utilize their authority and all administrative means and flexibilities to address staffing considerations. Field personnel will be working closely with establishment management and state and local health authorities to handle situations as they arise in your community. As always, communication between industry and government will be key. We are all relying on early and frequent communication with one another to overcome challenges as they arise.

In this time of much uncertainty, we know that many of you have questions about how the department will continue to ensure that grading and inspection personnel are available. We have all seen how consumers have reacted to the evolving coronavirus situation and how important access to food is to a sense of safety and wellbeing. It is more important than ever that we assure the American public that government and industry will take all steps necessary to ensure continued access to safe and wholesome USDA-inspected products.

As we come together as a country to address this public health threat, know that USDA remains committed to working closely with industry to fulfill our mission of ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply and protecting agricultural health.

Dr. Mindy Brashears
USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety

Greg Ibach
USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs
Click here for original article from USDA.gov

FDA New Tobacco 21 Resource Page

"This is Our Watch” launched nationally in November 2017. A full toolkit of resources is available to retailers—including posters, stickers, age verification tools, and more—to help retailers better comply with federal tobacco regulations. Click here to check out the printable materials.