A Nebraska program that gives aid to struggling mothers and children is changing the way client families shop for food.
Over the next few months, the Nebraska Women, Infants and Children program will be providing electronic transaction cards to clients; replacing the current paper voucher system. Program Manager Peggy Trouba says eWIC cards work a lot like debit cards and will be much more convenient for clients,
“Families can use their card at multiple times at the grocery store.” says Trouba. “They can purchase as many of their benefits throughout the month as they want to and they can go back to the store multiple times.”
Trouba says the cards also provide better security for clients because, like debit cards, they’re protected by pin numbers. She adds it will also be easier for stores to keep track of benefit purchases.
Despite the convenience, many certified WIC stores are choosing to not adopt the eWIC technology and are instead opting to end their involvement with the program. Trouba theorizes some stores may not have had enough WIC customers to justify involvement and other stores may have simply lost interest.
Trouba says Department of Health and Human Services plans to have all WIC stores that want to continue with the program transferred to the new system by the end of November. To prepare, the department is beginning a statewide education campaign, to ensure WIC clients aren’t caught off guard by the change.
“As we move across the state from region to region, each of those WIC clinics in that region will hang up posters and signs and they will handout little cards to their families to let them know when eWIC will be coming to their WIC clinic.” says Trouba.
When fully implemented, clients will be able to pick up their cards at their local WIC clinic. The clinics will also provide information on which stores will transfer to the new system.