Cumberland Times-News

November 18, 2013

WIC program phases out vouchers for debit cards

Martin’s,Walmart among stores that made switch

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— KEYSER, W.Va. — Participants in the federal Women, Infants and Children program will no longer receive paper vouchers; instead, benefits will be loaded on an Electronic Benefit Transfer card called the eWIC benefit card.

The eWIC card will allow WIC participants to purchase authorized foods in a manner similar to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program card or a debit card, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

“It (eWIC) has been wonderful for the clients, store staff and WIC personnel,” said Pam Riggleman, Shenandoah WIC Program outreach coordinator.

Stores in Mineral County that accept eWIC are Blankenship’s Country Store in Wiley Ford, Press Little Market in Ridgeley, Wayne’s Country Fresh Meat Market in Fort Ashby, T&S Market in Springfield as well as Martin’s Food Market and Walmart in Keyser, according to Riggleman. With the paper vouchers, there were a lot of stipulations and a greater margin of error as opposed to the eWIC, according to Josh Blankenship, general manager of Blankenship’s Country Store.

“It’s definitely easier to handle than the paper vouchers,” said Blankenship. “It also provides a benefit to the customer.”

Previously, if a customer went into a store to buy milk, eggs and cheese with the WIC paper voucher and the store only had milk and cheese, the customer wouldn’t be reimbursed for the eggs and the voucher would be wasted, according to Blankenship.

“eWIC keeps a running total of those items and they could go to another store somewhere else to purchase that other item. It’s more fair for them,” said Blankenship.

Press Little Market just switched over to eWIC cards and is still seeing WIC paper vouchers, according to Manager Tara Oakman. It has been a transitional period learning how to use the eWIC cards, said Oakman.   

With the paper voucher system, clients received about 12 vouchers, listing food increments, a month. On average, 716 people used WIC in Mineral County in 2013, according to Riggleman.

WIC provides healthy foods, nutrition and breastfeeding counseling to children up to age 5 as well as to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Those interested in WIC can call the Mineral County WIC office at 304-788-1693 and the Hampshire County WIC office at 304-822-5730 to see if they qualify for the eWIC card and to make an appointment.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.