The Mississippi State Department of Health Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is transitioning from a direct distribution food system to a retail food system via an electronic benefit transfer card. Photo by Leonie Wise on Unsplash
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is transitioning from a direct distribution food system to a retail food system via an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.
WIC participants will go from using paper vouchers for approved items to be picked up at a WIC food center to using an eWIC card to redeem benefits at approved grocery stores and pharmacies of their choice. In most locations there will be an approved grocery store and pharmacy within a 15-mile radius of their local WIC clinic.
“This will allow WIC participants to use their eWIC card at grocery stores and pharmacies where they will be able to choose their WIC benefit items,” said Diane Hargrove, Director of the MSDH WIC program. “They’ll have access to a wider variety of WIC-approved food products at various sites during more hours of operation.”
The Mississippi WIC transition is scheduled to be piloted in Forest and Lauderdale counties. Participants in those counties will receive their eWIC cards starting in October at their next WIC appointments. Final pick-up at those food centers will be at the end of December, and the food centers in those counties will close at the end of February 2021.
The schedule will continue with the rest of the counties throughout the state joining in a four-part rollout from mid-January through April 2021.
Before WIC participants can make their transition, grocery stores and pharmacies have to do their part. Retail grocery stores and pharmacies in the state have to apply to become WIC authorized vendors to sell WIC-approved food products and specially prescribed infant formula to WIC participants.
The agency is working diligently with USDA Food and Nutrition Service and contractors to ensure a smooth, productive transition process with limited risk and disruption to WIC participants.
The MSDH WIC Program is currently accepting applications from full-service grocery stores and pharmacies statewide. More information for vendors is available at www.freshnewwic.com.
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.