Big changes coming to Graham County Women Infants and Children (WIC)

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: From left, Ester Gonzales, Susan Soltis, and Renae Maldonado of WIC stand with information regarding the new E-WIC card.

By Brooke Curley

SAFFORD – The Graham County Women Infants and Children (WIC) are jumping to a new format Wednesday, transitioning from the traditional checks to an eWIC card.

Gila Valley Central interviewed Susan Soltis, WIC Nutrition Manager, about the newest format that the Graham County WIC office would be using. For the most part, Soltis said that she believed that the new cards would be something that many families would find helpful. One of the reasons being that the card can be used to purchase a single item instead of the requirements of buying everything that was on a check. Instead of having to purchase four gallons of milk because they were on the check, an individual may buy a single carton of milk using the eWic card.

“The most positive benefit is that right now when you get your paper checks you have to get everything that is on that check,” Soltis said. “With the eWIC card, the benefit goes to the card. You can buy as much or as little of the food that you’re eligible for. You can run in and buy one gallon of milk, or all your serial at one time if you want to.”

For parents with a small refrigerator, this new strategy of WIC food distribution may be a relief by allowig for ease of use in purchasing of single items. However, WIC foods do not accrue over several months on the card.

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: This eWIC card is one of the many that will be issued to families on the WIC program in the Gila Valley starting Nov. 8.

Another of the plus sides of switching over to the card is that individuals who are unfortunate enough lose their card do not lose the food. In the past, the WIC checks were treated as money. When an individual lost a month or two of WIC checks, the checks could not be reimbursed. Now, however, when an individual loses the card, the cardholder only needs to report it and WIC employees will close down the lost card and transfer the food to a new card. There will be no charge to individuals who lose their cards.

Starting Wednesday, the WIC office will begin issuing the new cards. Several individuals have asked to be some of the first to be some of the first to get the cards. To get a new card, individuals on the WIC program simply make their usual appointment, and then instead of leaving with their assigned checks for the month, they will be leaving with an eWIC card.

“We’re going to be issuing cards over the next three months,” Soltis said. “When people come in from now on, instead of leaving with vouchers they leave with the eWIC cards. When we issue a card, we scan it into the computer, so it’s issued to that person and when they go to the store they will swipe their eWIC card at that register.”

Soltis stressed to Gila Valley Central that individuals using the eWIC card cannot use their card at self-check out systems. Also, the staff at the Graham County WIC office advised that individuals using an eWIC card should separate their WIC food from the rest of their groceries when checking out. The eWIC card will also come with a free app for WIC compatible food searching, food lists, and checking the eWIC card balance.

For more information regarding Arizona WIC click here or call the Graham County WIC office at  (928) 428-7690.