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WIC Program To Implement Electronic System
The Women, Infants and Children food assistance program, known as WIC, is getting a makeover in Arizona thanks to a $5 million federal grant. The program will move from paper checks to an electronic system.
The grant comes from the United States Department of Agriculture and will pay for benefit cards for the state's WIC assistance program. These days, low-income pregnant women and mothers of small children use paper vouchers, each one good for specific healthy foods. Sheila Sjolander, assistant director of Arizona Health Services, said families are sometimes forced to buy more than they need at once, or else lose out on benefits.
"Those kinds of restrictions will be gone, and so it really allows the family a lot more flexibility to shop where they want to shop, as long as it’s a WIC-approved vendor," Sjolander said. "And to shop when they need to shop."
Sjolander said the change won’t be rolled out completely until 2017. Arizona has more than 160,000 participants in WIC and was the first state implement the program statewide in 1974.