Little Rock, Ark. – Arkansas’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program has successfully rolled out new Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. The cards make the store check-out process with WIC-approved items easier for both participants and vendors.
WIC, a federal program administered in the state through the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), educates families about proper nutrition for babies, young children, and expectant new mothers to improve diet and health habits. WIC provides: a selection of approved supplemental foods high in nutrients needed for growth and development; information, support, and encouragement for breastfeeding; and referrals for other health services. Pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women; infants; and children under age five may qualify if they live in Arkansas, have a nutritional need, and an income at or below WIC guidelines, or receive Medicaid, ARKids, TEA, or SNAP.
In addition to the new EBT cards, the state is now included on the online nutrition app, WICShopper, which allows participants to use a smart phone or device to easily access their shopping list, scan foods to see if they are WIC-approved and their nutritional value, and find recipes using WIC-approved foods.
Arkansas WIC has about 73,884 participants who previously received one to three paper checks each month to purchase all of the items they might need in a month. The EBT cards now allow participants to purchase items over multiple visits each month at any of WIC’s 350 vendors. Three months of benefits can be loaded onto the cards at one time, although participants must visit the ADH for nutrition education and to get benefits reloaded.
“The EBT cards allow us to serve both our participants and our approved vendors better,” said Cristy Sellers, ADH Center Director for Health Advancement. “WIC participants can now check out like any other shopper, making the shopping trip go more smoothly and allowing them to pick up grocery items as needed.”
The new EBT cards fulfill a U.S. Department of Agriculture mandate that all states be EBT-functioning by 2020. Arkansas piloted the EBT cards in Little River and Miller counties earlier this year before becoming the first state in the nation to roll out the new system to all of its WIC participants at one time.
EBT is like a debit card account, and participants have a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access their card. Available current monthly benefits on the card can be printed on a receipt at approved vendors so participants can keep track of available benefits throughout the month. The cards make checkouts more discreet and faster. For more information, visit https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/wic.