D.C. Aldi Doesn’t Accept WIC

Alex Wong / Getty Images

The new Aldi grocery store that opened last week in Northeast D.C. has been touted as a boost for nearby low-income residents since the discount grocer is known for its low prices. But the store doesn’t accept governmental assistance payments such as the Women, Children and Infants (WIC) program, which provides low-income families with subsides to purchase groceries. The chain does, however, accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

“We have explored ways for the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program to work within our operational structure,” Spokeswoman Amy Nadler emailed this statement to DCentric. “However, since the majority of our grocery products are under our own ALDI exclusive brands and are not national brands, unfortunately, we simply don’t qualify within the program’s current guidelines.  Therefore, we cannot accept WIC.”

So even though Aldi does have low prices, the pricier Safeway nearby may be the only option for those on WIC.

This post has been updated to include information about Aldi accepting EBT cards.

Aldi Won’t Accept Government Subsidy Payments

Johannes Eisele/Getty

Aldi has plans to open a store in Northeast D.C., but customers won’t be able to use federal Women Infants, and Children program subsidies to purchase groceries there. The Gazette reports that Aldi doesn’t accept WIC payments because the store sells Aldi brands only:

A spokeswoman for the ALDI grocery chain said federal government guidelines governing the Women Infants and Children program precludes them from taking payments from customers enrolled in the program because the guidelines require that those customers buy only certain national brands of food. The chain offers its own brands of food, the spokeswoman said.

… ALDI will be unable to offer WIC because of its reliance on its own brands, a spokeswoman for ALDI Inc. said.

“We have explored ways for the WIC program to work within our operational structure,” spokeswoman Julie Ketay wrote in an e-mailed statement. “However, since the majority of our grocery products are under our own ALDI select brands and are not national brands, unfortunately, we simply don’t qualify within the program’s current guidelines.”

WIC is meant support low-income women, children and infants, and part of the program includes food subsidies. Aldi is known for selling low-cost items, something the German-based grocer is able to pull off in large-part because it only sells Aldi brands. Its reputation as a cheap grocery store has led to some debate over the type of clientele that would be attracted to the D.C. store, which is being built in a gentrifying area. But those using WIC subsidies may find themselves patronizing the nearby Safeway instead.

Aldi versus Walmart in D.C.


Flickr: Laura Mary

Walmart is trying its darnedest to open up stores in New York City (sound familiar?). In light of their fight, The New York Times has this piece today examining how little talk there has been about discount grocer Aldi opening stores throughout the city.

Even though Aldi, like Wal-Mart, is nonunion, it has faced little resistance, compared with the heated opposition often headed by unions and politicians that Wal-Marts have encountered in larger markets.

“There’s no reason to oppose an Aldi — it’s a small format, and they usually get space from an existing landowner or landlord, a small guy who’s plugged into the community, not a big guy like a Forest City Ratner,” Mr. Johnson said. “Wal-Mart has sort of become a bad guy that there’s a concerted effort against. I’m not sure that Aldi has really gotten on anyone’s radar screen.”

Same story in D.C., for the most part. Aldi broke ground in September 2010 on its first D.C. store, slated for a site in Northeast close to a shuttered Safeway. No mass protests against bringing a nonunion Aldi to town; rather, much of the talk was oozing with references to what class of folks this Aldi would cater to and what that would do to the gentrifying neighborhood’s image.

Continue reading