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Big Changes Coming to Missouri's WIC Program

Big changes are coming to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program that will affect all areas of Missouri. WIC will be moving away from printed paper checks to an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will be making the transition in pilot phases that will include a select number of counties beginning February 2020. The rollout phase will follow beginning June 2020 in five areas of the state. Missouri will be an eWIC state by August of 2020.

eWIC will provide a more private, user-friendly and less stressful time for participants to take part in the WIC program. Currently, users must go into a WIC agency once a month to get their WIC check. A common deterrent for current and potential WIC users is at the grocery store— a participant must present their WIC check before the transaction starts, a cashier must go through the check to make sure approved items were purchased and if a participant did not select all of the items on that check they would lose that item for the month. The new process is intended to alleviate this barrier.

An eWIC participant will soon be able to access 3 months worth of benefits on their card. Benefits will be added at the time of a participants’ WIC appointment. The increase access to benefits usage will allow for increased participant-centered nutrition counseling. All household participant benefits will be on one eWIC card to minimize the likelihood of lost or stolen benefits. WIC food items will now be purchased on an as needed basis instead of all at once which will lead to better usage and access. Missouri WIC will be utilizing a specialized smartphone app the local WIC agency will provide at the time of the first eWIC appointment. The app will allow participants to scan items to determine if it is WIC approved, allowing that participant more freedom and less stress at the checkout counter.

The new eWIC system will encourage a conversation between advocates and survivors about available resources and encourage use of WIC benefits. 

To learn more about the changes and when implementation will be happening in your area, visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, 76 percent of infants and 36 percent of children eligible for WIC utilized the program in Missouri in 2019. The WIC program was created to improve overall health, birth weights, infant feeding practices, breastfeeding initiation, dietary quality, cognitive development, educational attainment and income in adulthood.

To learn more about the Food Research and Action Center, visit their website.

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