Maine Improves Access to Nutritional Support for Women, Infants, and Children
AUGUSTA — The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program in Maine is transitioning from paper vouchers to an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, leading to smoother and faster transactions at the register and streamlining payments to participating stores.
This new way to receive and use benefits is called eWIC. Through the eWIC system, benefits are entered onto an EBT card, similar to a debit card. The EBT card can be used to purchase healthy foods at WIC-authorized stores statewide. This card replaces a paper-based system that relied heavily on vouchers.
Penobscot and Piscataquis counties went live with eWIC on June 22. Participants in Aroostook, Hancock, Washington, Kennebec, and Somerset counties will begin receiving cards on July 20. All other counties go live on August 31.
“It’s essential for women and children to get the nutritious foods they need during key times of growth and development,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “The new eWIC system will benefit Maine families and participating stores throughout the state.”
The WIC program, administered by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), works to improve the health and nutrition of women, infants, and children during critical times of growth and development. WIC provides healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and supplies, and referrals to other services. Participants statewide at nutritional risk receive WIC benefits through local WIC agencies in their communities.
The WIC program serves more than 16,500 individuals. Pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age 5 are eligible. Participants must meet income guidelines, live in Maine, and be determined by a health professional to be at "nutritional risk."
Maine is on target to implement an EBT system throughout the state by October 1, 2020, in line with the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
WIC is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.
To learn more about WIC and the change to eWIC, please go to www.maine.gov/WIC .