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WIC Electronic Benefits Transfer (eWIC)


What is eWIC?

EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer, but is often referred to as eWIC. With eWIC, the WIC food benefits are accessed using a plastic card similar to a credit or debit card, instead of using paper WIC checks. The card is then used at the store when redeeming food benefits. All WIC foods for all WIC participants in a household are accessed using one family card. Iowa is in the latter stages of eWIC planning and is required by federal mandate to complete implementation by October 1, 2020.

How will eWIC Affect Me?

There are many benefits of using eWIC at the grocery store. Currently, if you do not purchase all of the foods listed on your WIC check when you cash the check at the grocery store, you lose the foods you did not purchase. With eWIC, you will not have to purchase all of the foods on your card at one time. You can use your eWIC card to purchase the food items whenever you want to within the monthly benefit period. Also, it is less noticeable to other shoppers that you are using WIC benefits when using the card.

With all food benefits for your family combined on the eWIC card, you can decide how many items you would like to purchase each time you use your card. For example, if your family has two children each receiving 4 gallons of milk, a total of 8 gallons are put onto the card. You can purchase anywhere from one gallon to all eight gallons at once if you chose to. Food benefits still must be redeemed within a first date and last date to use. You will also receive a receipt for each WIC purchase. This receipt will list the foods purchased during that shopping trip. It will also list the remaining balance of WIC foods - the foods that you can buy before the last date of use.

Other Benefits of eWIC Include:

  • The flexibility to purchase items when you need them; either purchasing all items available at one time, or at different times.
  • The choice to shop at multiple stores for your WIC items, since it is not necessary to purchase all items at one time.
  • The security of a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to help prevent loss or theft of your WIC benefits.
  • The convenience of using a card and PIN for purchases, rather than the paper vouchers and the WIC folder for verification.
  • The privacy of using a card means that other shoppers are less likely to know that you are purchasing items with WIC benefits.
  • The time you save in the checkout lane by having the items approved by the store scanning system rather than by the store clerk.
  • The enhanced nutrition education that can be provided to you by the local WIC agency with the time saved by eliminating printing of paper vouchers.
  • The ease of seeing what benefits have been used and what benefits are remaining after a purchase.

Where can I Join the Conversation?

The Iowa WIC program launched a facebook page in January 2013. The purpose of the Iowa WIC facebook page is to provide a place where you can talk about all things WIC - including the planning and implementation of eWIC in Iowa. To find Iowa WIC on facebook, click on the “Find us on facebook” button at the top of this page and join the conversation!