HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - This summer, parents with WIC benefits will be able to breeze through check out lines. It's all thanks to the new eWIC program --- Madison county recipients will receive benefit cards in June.
Benefits will be loaded onto debit-like cards, meaning WIC will no longer issue food vouchers to Alabama recipients.
"I think anything that makes benefits easier, and gives a little more dignity to the recipients, I think that's a good thing," explained Shirley Schofield of the Food Bank of North Alabama.
Previously, parents using WIC vouchers had to hand over each individual voucher for each food item they wanted to purchase.
This card will cut down that process.
"I think having a card that they can use so they're not having to do the signatures at the cashier," explained Schofield. " I think that's going to make it much more efficient and I think it's going to make it easier not only for recipients but also for the cashiers."
The Food Bank of North Alabama said they aren't able to keep baby foods and formula in stock, so the WIC program is a vital piece of the community.
"Babies and children, you know the ones that are eligible to receive this kind of assistance, it's really important because you want those kids to start off with as healthy of food as they can," added Schofield. "And the WIC program makes sure those kids are taken care of at very young age."
Each month nearly 120 thousand Alabamians use WIC to obtain nutritional foods for their children.
All of the stores that currently accept WIC vouchers will be aware of the changes and accept the new cards.
Participants in the Alabama WIC Program in Autauga, Elmore and Montgomery counties are being issued the state’s first eWIC electronic benefit transfer cards as part of the pilot program. They received the cards on March 18.
The second phase of the eWIC rollout will begin April 1. It includes the remainder of the counties in the East Central and the Northeastern districts of the Alabama Department of Public Health:
- St. Clair
After the pilot completes, the cards will be distributed as follows:
- June: Northern District (approximately 24,961 participants, 15 clinics, 143 WIC vendors)
- July: West Central and Jefferson Districts (approximately 24,967 participants, 20 clinics, 130 WIC vendors)
- August: Southeastern, Mobile and Southwestern Districts (approximately 34,292 participants, 35 clinics, 174 WIC vendors)
Contact your county health department for more information or visit alabamapublichealth.gov/WIC.