An electronic WIC card program was launched Monday in New York’s capital region, with paper checks replaced with a benefits transfer card for families in the Women, Infants and Children program to shop.
If the pilot program is successful, eWIC technology will be gradually introduced statewide by the spring of 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. It’s goal is help remove the stigma associated with WIC as well as make it more accessible.
Under the new technology, participants will be able to roll over any unused benefits from a shopping trip toward future use. Currently, any funds left unused on a check may not be used for future purchases.
An additional technology rolled out Monday is a mobile application called WIC2Go. The app allows users to scan the barcode on a product to see if it is WIC-eligible. Users can also check their account balance, view their upcoming WIC appointments and locate WIC vendors and clinics.
WIC, a federal program designed to ensure that expectant women and children have access to nutritious foods, is funded and monitored by the federal department of agriculture. The USDA has mandated that all states adopt eWIC technology by 2020.
WIC serves more than 400,000 women, infants and children throughout the state. Benefits can be redeemed at approximately 3,000 authorized stores across the state.
“The launch of the eWIC program transforms the way WIC families shop and access benefits,” said Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner. “This comprehensive program will work to promote a healthy lifestyle.”