New Debit Cards Create Convenient Shopping Experience for More than 3,300 Participants in Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties
Implementation Ahead of USDA 2020 Deadline to Adopt eWIC Technology
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the next step in the statewide rollout of eWIC, an electronic benefits transfer card which eliminates paper checks and provides a more convenient way for families in the Women, Infants, and Children program to shop for WIC foods. Today's expansion brings WIC stores online in Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties benefiting more than 3,300 participants and coincides with eWIC expansion in Warren, Washington, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Otsego, and Schoharie counties.
"The importance of a well-balanced meal cannot be understated, and having access to healthy food is a right for all New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "eWIC will truly transform the lives of those who rely on the WIC program, making it more convenient than ever for New Yorkers to feed their families."
"As a mother I can't imagine the pain of knowing you don't have the ability to give your child their next meal," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "We have already heard from grateful families about the difference that the eWIC technology has made in ensuring they have access to nutritious food, without the shame that can be felt holding up a grocery line using an outdated system. By bringing the WIC system into the 21st Century, we're enhancing this critical benefits program and promoting convenient shopping for all New Yorkers."
eWIC, which works like a debit card, makes shopping with WIC benefits easier and allows WIC vendors to be reimbursed faster. The new eWIC technology also allows families to roll over any unused benefits from a shopping trip toward future purchases during the same month. The release of eWIC technology in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties follows the success of a pilot in Albany, Schenectady, and Rensselaer counties this past spring.
Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties join 14 other counties where eWIC is now online. New York State will continue to release eWIC in additional stores in the North Country, and in Central New York, the Southern Tier and Western New York in the fall and winter of 2018 before moving downstate in early 2019. eWIC technology will be available statewide for all WIC participants and WIC stores by spring 2019.
In addition to eWIC, the Department of Health launched a new mobile application called WIC2Go to make shopping for WIC foods easier. WIC2Go allows users to scan the barcode on a product to see if it is WIC-approved. Users can also check their account balance, view their upcoming WIC appointments, and locate WIC stores and clinics.
WIC offers nutritious foods, education on nutrition, advice for healthy living, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals to eligible New York families with young children, and women who are pregnant. Registered dietitians are on staff at WIC sites to give one-on-one nutrition advice. WIC serves more than 400,000 women, infants, and children each month with services provided at 400 clinics throughout the state. WIC food benefits can be redeemed at approximately 3,000 authorized WIC stores across the state. WIC is funded and monitored by the USDA. USDA has mandated that all states adopt eWIC technology by the year 2020.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "With more counties and providers coming online with eWIC, we are simplifying the shopping experience for WIC families and retailers. All families deserve easy access to the types of food necessary for childhood development and overall good health, and I look forward a continued successful rollout statewide."
Clinton County Health Department WIC Coordinator Mary Lee Ireland said, "Clinton County Health Department is very excited that eWIC cards are now available in our local community. Shopping with an eWIC card is much easier and more discreet than using paper checks. Families with eWIC cards can now go into any WIC store and purchase only the foods they need."
Fathers, grandparents, foster parents, and other caregivers may apply for WIC benefits for their infants and young children. Many working families qualify and individuals who are already enrolled in Medicaid, SNAP or TANF automatically meet the income qualifications for WIC. To find a local clinic, applicants can call the Growing Up Healthy Hotline at 1-800-522-5006, visit the New York State Department of Health website at www.health.ny.gov/wic, or use the WIC2Go mobile application. For more information on eWIC, families can visit www.health.ny.gov/wic and vendors can visit www.nyswicvendors.com.