by Clinton Bennett
The Alaska Division of Public Assistance’s Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has begun providing electronic benefits transfer cards to their participants, which will be known as an eWIC card. The eWIC cards will replace the checks the program has issued for nearly 40 years to help nutritionally at-risk mothers, infants and children to age five purchase healthy nutritious food at the grocery store. The program began issuing eWIC cards in northern Southeast Alaska on Feb. 21, 2019.
The transition from checks to the eWIC card will modernize the shopping experience for WIC’s participants and grocery stores, which will make it quicker and easier to checkout. The card will simplify transactions at checkout and help to identify which foods are allowed to be purchased using WIC. The eWIC card will have all of the family’s WIC benefits on one account and they can purchase food as needed, rather than all at once.
The eWIC cards are currently being piloted in Juneau, Angoon, Haines, Hoonah, Kake, Petersburg, Wrangell and Yakutat. The next phase of the pilot will begin March 11 in Ketchikan, Sitka, Metlakatla and the communities on Prince of Wales Island. After piloting eWIC cards in Southeast Alaska, the Alaska WIC program will phase in the cards across Alaska beginning in June.
WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, a community of support and referrals for other needs. Visit the Alaska WIC website at wic.alaska.gov or call 907-465-3100 to learn more.