The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), authorizes retail grocers, called regular WIC vendors, to provide the food benefit. Recently, some states have seen an increase in vendors called WIC-only vendors, who stock only WIC food and accept only WIC vouchers. Both vendor types accept WIC vouchers in exchange for a cash payment, or redemption, from WIC state agencies with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant funds. To determine what effect WIC-only vendors' growth would have on program expenditures, in the absence of recent cost containment legislation, Congress asked GAO (1) what is known about WIC-only vendors' growth and their share of the WIC market in recent years, (2) to what extent do WIC-only and regular WIC vendors differ, and (3) what would WIC-only vendors' contribution to WIC program expenditures have been, if their market share increased. GAO analyzed national WIC vendor data, interviewed WIC state officials about vendors' business practices, and analyzed redemption data from California, Texas and Florida.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Agriculture
|To assist WIC state agencies in more effectively monitoring WIC vendors' redemption practices, in implementing the new cost containment requirements, and in analyzing program expenditures, the Secretary of Agriculture should require, if collection of more detailed information on WIC food purchases is cost-effective through electronic benefits transfer implementation, that WIC state agencies collect data on both the price and the quantity of each WIC food item purchased, especially in each state that authorizes WIC-only vendors.
Closed – Implemented