Hickory – The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program at Catawba County Public Health has taken a new technological step this April, with the transition to eWIC.

The new eWIC is a plastic Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that will replace paper vouchers and can be used like a “debit” card to purchase WIC-approved foods.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a supplemental healthy food program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for infants and children up to age five, and pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women.

Catawba County residents may have noticed changes at area grocery stores beginning in mid-April.

Here’s how it works:
· WIC staff will issue one eWIC card per qualifying family.
· Monthly benefit packages will be loaded onto the eWIC card.
· Benefits will be debited from the eWIC account as approved foods are purchased from authorized WIC vendors.

eWIC is simple, safe and convenient. Cards are secured with a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and work like a debit card at checkout. The cards will replace paper food vouchers and will be more convenient for families to use while grocery shopping.

“We are excited about the transition to eWIC because of how convenient it is for families,” said Catawba County WIC Director Julie Byrd. “By allowing families to buy only what they need, clients are better able to make food decisions that are right for their families, and reduce food waste at the same time.”

Families will also be able to check out faster and won’t have to separate items at the register at most stores. Participants can view their shopping list and check their balance by requesting a copy at the local WIC office, by calling the automated customer service line, logging on to the participant web portal, checking the last printed grocery receipt, or requesting a balance inquiry at the store. The transition to eWIC is expected to take several months, as not all families will get their cards at the same time.

“Our staff is excited to be part of this transition, which will make WIC even more accessible in Catawba County,” said Byrd.

The Catawba County WIC office serves a monthly case load of nearly 4,000 participants. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and all of our services are provided in a welcoming and confidential setting. Read the non-discrimination statement at www.fns.usda.gov/usda-nondiscrimination-statement.

Catawba County Public Health promotes and protects the health of all Catawba County residents through preventive services, innovative partnerships, and community health improvement initiatives. For more information, please call (828) 695-5800 or visit www.catawbacountync.gov/phealth.