eWIC makes it easier for families to make healthy choices at grocery stores

Families in the Idaho Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program now have a more convenient way to shop for healthy, WIC-approved foods. The WIC program has rolled out a digital payment innovation, which involves switching from paper checks to an electronic benefits system. The new system is called eWIC, and it distributes benefits onto a card that is used like a debit card.

1101_eWICcard

eWIC rolled out in southern Idaho on Sept. 12 and expanded to the rest of the state in October.

The digital program gives families in the WIC program a more convenient and efficient way to shop for healthy, WIC-approved foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, juice, baby formula, and baby foods.

“We’ve received some really positive feedback from moms who have started using the card. And when it’s paired with the WICShopper app, it really streamlines the customer experience as they purchase healthy foods,” said Cristi Litzsinger, director of Idaho WIC.

The WICShopper app is available in cellphone app stores and allows users to log in and keep track of their balance and determine which foods are approved by scanning bar codes.

Recent WICShopper statistics show Idaho was more than ready for the eWIC card and phone app. A dramatic increase in use of the WICShopper app in public health districts 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (all parts of the state except for the panhandle) occurred after the first statewide rollout in September.

4. eWIC_chart

*Registered Families Using the App – Number of unique card numbers registered
**Registered Shopping Trips – Event of a participant checking their balance. Based on participant feedback, participants most often check their balance the day they go shopping. Only counted once per day per registered card.
***Families Using App – Number of unique device IDs that accessed the app

Idaho WIC offers nutrition education, nutritional assessments, and the new eWIC card to purchase certain healthy foods to eligible low-income families. The program has 65 clinics across the state and is accepted in 200 WIC-authorized grocery stores.

Benefits of the eWIC card include:

  • It’s fast, so there are fewer hassles at checkout.
  • It’s simple because it identifies all of the foods a family can buy with WIC funds. The card has the list of foods allowed, and once they are scanned the cash register confirms whether the food can be purchased.
  • It’s convenient and allows participants to buy only the food needed each time, rather than having to buy the full amount of the benefit at once. For example, when a family had a list of food items on a WIC check they had to purchase everything on the check or forego those items.

WIC is entirely funded with federal funds and is administered by the Division of Public Health. In state fiscal year 2019, the program served 31,507 clients, and the average voucher was $51 a month.

For questions about eWIC or to learn more, visit www.WIC.dhw.idaho.gov.

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