Credit: Sofi Gratas / GPB News
WIC participants in Georgia will finally get electronic benefits
A switch to electronic purchasing will make using the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children easier for low-income families. Sofi Gratas reports.
The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children helps low-income families buy healthy foods. A switch to electronic purchasing will make that even easier.
Georgia is one of the last states to roll out the electronic WIC benefits program, or eWIC, which replaces paper vouchers with a debit card. In 2020, the USDA issued a nationwide rollout mandate for eWIC to public health departments that didn’t offer it yet.
“The state of Georgia couldn't meet that deadline,” Pat Mobely said. “So we now are complete and we're ready to go.”
Mobely is the WIC coordinator for the Coastal Health District based in Savannah, where the state’s eWIC pilot program got its start two weeks ago. She says by the end of October, every WIC participant in Georgia should have the card, giving them more freedom with their benefits.
“They're going to be able to go into stores, and if they just need to go get a gallon of milk, they can go get that,” Mobely said. “They don't have to use all their benefits at one time. So they have a whole month to use everything that's on that card.”
With electronic WIC cards, program participants will be able to check their benefits balance online and use the card to purchase WIC approved foods for themselves and other participants in their family, such as children and infants.
Roughly 200,000 women and children in Georgia take advantage of WIC benefits every year, and that number has the potential to increase with a switch to the debit cards. In a 2019 study of states that had implemented the program, there was an 8% increase in participation over three years. Most of those new participants were children.