In the Cart   

A publication of the Texas Food Council
In This Issue
Texas WIC Program Statistics
WIC Kiosks And Redemption Rates- Share your ideas!
Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011
Efforts To Restrict SNAP Products Still An Issue
Infant Formula Theft
Action Alert: NLRB
$100.00 Counterfeit Bills
SNAP Balance Inquiry Update
SNAP Program Update
Plastic Bag Ban Update

Texas WIC Program Statistics


WIC redemptions averaged $47.70 per client during October and November 2011.


* WIC redemptions for December 2011 averaged $50.98 per client.


* WIC participation averaged around 980,000 for October, November, and December 2012, with a slight dip in December 2012.


* There was an average of 2.1 million transactions for October, November and December 2012.


* WIC Dollars redeemed in January 2012 totaled $47,373,833.78 with 971,762 participants. 

WIC Kiosks And Redemption Rates- Share your ideas!

We have seen continued interest in the concept of instituting a small kiosk at retail locations that would enable  WIC client's to download their food prescription balance at store level. Jim Magee with JPMA (TRA affiliate member) has been actively involved in the development of this hardware and process both on agency side and with pilot projects with some of our retail members. 


This feature would enable  WIC customer to know their exact balance when entering the store and would have the effect of increasing benefit redemption


Currently, Texas WIC clients are only redeeming 90% of the benefits available each month. That translates to $4.5 to $ 5 million dollars lost each month. 


Click here to view updated redemption reports by total or category. This information can be used to help develop proper space allocation. 


Click here to explore ideas from the Texas WIC website that help improve redemption. 


Finally, after readings these ideas and reports, write down a few of your own from your personal experience. Put yourself in your WIC customers shoes and ask yourself: 


*How can we help WIC customers find the authorized products listed on their food prescription? 


*How can we make the shopping experience for WIC customers easier? 


*Once you have a few answers and thoughts, reply to this email and share them. 


We have come a long way since the old paper vouchers and with your support and valuable ideas, we will continue to make improvements in the process. 


Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011  

The Trade Adjustment Assistance extension Act of 2011 amended the Social Security Act to clarify the definition of a "Newly Hired Employee" (effective April 21, 2012). 


The term "newly hired employee" means an employee who:


*has not previously been employed by the employer; or


* was previously employed by the employer but has been separated from such employment for at least 60 consecutive days.


There is new information posted on the Texas Employer web site located at


They have a "Quick Reference Guide For Texas Employers"  available as new pamphlet on "New Hire Reporting". 


If  you aren't reporting electronically, call 800-850-6442 to learn more about the ease of electronic reporting. 

Efforts To Restrict SNAP Products Still An Issue 


The Texas House Committee on Public Health will begin an interim study on SNAP restrictions in March. We anticipate a policy push next session for the restriction of certain items currently available for sale to authorized WIC clients.These items could include soda, cookies, snack items, chips and candy. 


Click here to read a draft of talking points we used last session to defeat the legislation. Similar efforts to pass SNAP restrictions have recently been defeated in Kentucky and Florida.


 We advise that management teams work diligently to ensure that personnel don't create additional issues by promoting "not healthy" items as being SNAP or Food Assistance Eligible. Pictures were recently sent to the USDA/FNS of POP material displayed in chip and cookie aisles. Pictures also surfaced after Valentines Day that showed candy gift baskets being advertised as SNAP eligible.   



As we continue to get pressure from Congress to make SNAP as prescriptive as the WIC program, the USDA has asked retailers to please be conscious of promoting certain food items as being SNAP eligible. 

Infant Formula Theft 


Infant formula continues to be one of the top ten items shoplifted out of grocery stores. Across the nation, the WIC program accounts for around one third of all sales of infant formula products. Over 50% of all babies born in the US last year participated in the WIC Program and 98% of those babies are nurtured by infant formula. 


A single can of formula can cost from $10 to $45 depending on the brand, size and mix. Thus, it has earned the nickname "liquid gold" by shoplifters because of its high demand and relatively high price per item. The USDA has released a policy memo regarding fraudulent sales of infant formula and WIC food items. Click here to view the memo. 

Action Alert: NLRB


On December 22, 2011, the NLRB finalized a union rule, known as the "ambush election rule." It is set to take effect April 30, 2012. The rule will drastically alter the process and timeline for union elections, effectively limiting a grocer's opportunity to communicate their position to employees as well as the employees' opportunity to consider that position.


Lawsuits have been filed seeking an injunction to block the Board from implementing this rule. In addition, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) establishes special procedures for Congress to disapprove such regulations. Joint resolutions S.J. Res 36 and H.R. Res 103 have been introduced and, if enacted, would prevent the rule from taking effect. 


Please call today! Urge your elected officials to support the resolutions and rein in the NLRB. 


An easy way to take action is through N.G.A.'s Online Action Center. You only register one time, review the draft of message, personalize it, then send to your elected officials.

Please let us know if you are aware of another subject or item that may see some type of legislative activity in near future.
Join Our Mailing List!



$100.00 Counterfeit Bills 


We received reports from both

police and a few members that a

group is passing $100 counterfeit bills at retail stores in Texas. 


These are "washed" bills with the same number on all bills of HK16607358BK11. The group usually makes a small purchase, generally from $15 to $20 and then gives the counterfeit $100. 


Since it is a "washed" bill, the

paper is good and the pen used 

to check paper will indicate 

good paper. Please instruct 

clerks to verify currency with 

security features like watermarks, distinctive photographs and textured material. 


For $100 bills, those features include a watermark image of Benjamin Franklin located to the right of the large portrait of Franklin in the center of the bill. 


For more information from the Secret Service and tips on how to spot counterfeit money, click here. 


SNAP Balance Inquiry Update

We sent out a survey following the implementation of balance inquiry transactions in October 2011. The results from that survey indicate that there were 1,621 approved balance inquiry transactions in October 2011 and there were 14,172 approved balance inquiry transactions in January 2012.   


The results of the feedback indicated that a majority of the SNAP customers aren't aware they can do a Balance Inquiry in lane without making a purchase.  


Texas SNAP has an option to assist individual retailers with their efforts to advertise this new feature at a store-level. HHSC has created a template that can be used to print signage for display in their stores. The template is available here.   


SNAP Program Update  

SNAP and TANF Program Statistics for January 2012  

*TX SNAP & TANF participants in January were 1.71 Million total (1.7 Million SNAP cases, 46 Million TANF cases). 
*There was an average of 9.4 transactions per case per month. 
*The average SNAP transaction equaled $32.03. 
*SNAP transactions in January 2012 amounted to approximately $518 million dollars.
Plastic Bag Ban Update  

On March 2, the Austin City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will ban single use plastic and paper bags. The law will go into effect on March 1, 2013. Once in effect, Austin retailers may only offer customers:


*cloth bags

*recycled paper bags that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council

*plastic bags that are 4.0 Mils in thickness


Bag bans are currently being considered in Corpus Christi and Big Spring. The city of San Antonio is moving towards a city wide education campaign after an initial recycling pilot program that the city conducted with the help of TRA. 


News Clips:  

Statesman: Austin Passes Bag Ban


Houston Chronicle: Austin OKs disposable bag ban for 2013 


KEYE: Austin Council Approves 2013 Disposable Bag Ban


Contact Us

Ronnie Volkening, President 

Joe WIlliams, Vice President Regulatory and Member Services and Texas Food Council Main Contact   

Stephanie Gibson, Vice President of Governmental Affairs 

Anissa Kocian, Director of Operations and Events 

Carrie Blanda, Director of Communications