WIC program to move to electronic benefits

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Use the Alabama women, infants and children program?

Changes are coming beginning next year.

The state will change to e-WIC, which will switch the WIC benefits to electronic benefits cards for WIC recipients.

WIC is designed to provide food, health care and nutrition education to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, as well as infants and children up to 5 years old.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, WIC recipients will get a WIC EBT card, or e-WIC card, and will replace the current paper-based delivery system.

ADPH’s release said that the program has spent several years in the planning phase and made the decision to utilize an online e-WIC card.

“Alabama WIC is now entering the implementation phase,” the website says. “The city of Montgomery has been selected as the pilot site. Following a three-month pilot, we will begin statewide roll out. The pilot is estimated to begin February/March 2018 with statewide roll out beginning at the end of the three-month pilot. e-WIC will be rolled out in phases by the Public Health areas.”

ADPH said that as soon as the state selects an e-WIC service provider, officials will begin working closely with authorized WIC vendors to ensure all vendors are ready for implementation.

ADPH officials say that with the implementation that store employees will no longer be the WIC Police. WIC food items will be identified by the cash register system at the time of purchase.

“Each WIC approved item will be maintained in the Universal Product Code (UPC) database, providing stores with a more accurate description of WIC approved items. Alabama WIC will maintain the UPC database with the assistance of our authorize WIC vendors. This database will be updated regularly to ensure all authorized WIC items are available for purchase.”

ADPH officials say that this system will reduce the number of non-approved WIC items being purchased, because non-WIC items will be identified during scanning.

Since the move to e-WIC will eliminate paper checks, it will reduce paperwork and streamlining back end processing, which means that store’s will receive credit within 24 to 48 hours of food benefits being redeemed by program participants.

Time spent in line will also be cut down because participant authentication will be managed through the use of a participant PIN, eliminating the need for the cashier to verify the signature on the check with the signature on the WIC ID folder.

Additionally, the WIC customer will no longer be required to separate individual family member’s WIC items during checkout.

Nearly 127,000 people utilize the WIC program in Alabama.