WIC program set to go electronic in Alabama

(Source: WBRC video)
Updated: Mar. 18, 2019 at 4:39 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Health has announced the launch of the eWIC project that will allow participants to access benefits electronically.

WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced the pilot program will be implemented in two phases starting Monday. WIC participants in the Autauga, Elmore and Montgomery counties will be issued Alabama’s first eWIC benefit transfer card.

The new system will upload benefits for pre-approved WIC foods onto the card and allow purchases at authorized stores. The card will work much like a debit card and replace the use of paper-based vouchers, according to the ADPH.

The department expects the program to provide many benefits to WIC participants and vendors such as less stigma, easier transactions and automatic electronic payments to vendors.

“I want to thank all of the program staff that have been involved with eWIC implementation and our clinic staff who see participants daily to provide WIC services,” Alabama WIC Program Director Amanda Martin said. “We have been working towards this milestone since 2009 and are extremely happy to begin this pilot.”

The second phase of the eWIC pilot program will launch April 1 in the remaining counties:

  • Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, DeKalb, Etowah, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Rudolph, Russell, St. Clair, Shelby, Talladega and Tallapoosa

After the pilot launch, the ADPH has scheduled other districts to participate in eWIC as follows:

  • June: Northern District
  • July: West Central and Jefferson Districts
  • August: Southeastern, Mobile and Southwestern Districts

“Recognizing the value of eWIC, the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates that each state WIC agency implement an electronic benefit transfer system throughout the state by October 1, 2020,” Sheehan said.

In 2018, participants redeemed nearly $100 million in food instruments at the state’s 638 WIC-authorized stores.

More information can be found on the Alabama Department of Public Health website or contact your county health department.

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