Arkansas’ WIC Program Rolls Out EBT Cards

ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- Grocery shopping for participants of Arkansas` Women, Infants and Children Program(WIC) will now have an easier way to grocery shop thanks to electronic benefits cards.

Before the new card roll-out participants in the WIC program received checks in the mail. Sometimes participants would have to bring up to three checks to the grocery store, and have to purchase every item with the checks at one time.

“With the new EBT card, if they only want to purchase one item, (if) they only want one gallon of milk, they can just purchase the one gallon of milk. They can come back tomorrow and buy the next gallon of milk. They don`t have to purchase everything all at once,” Cristy Sellers said.

Director for the Center for Health Advancement Cristy Sellers said the WIC cards use the chip technology making them even more advanced than SNAP EBT cards.

“Within just a matter of hours that the product has been purchased, if the card is lost or stolen we can stop it from being able to be used, so that those benefits don`t go away. They can come back in and we can issue them a new card and pick up right where they left off,” she said.

For grocery stores like Harps, they said customers using these cards instead of the paper checks will be a lot easier when it`s time to check out.

“I think it is a better system, it`s a little bit more efficient on the front end. You do away with the paper of course, you don`t have to handle that paper, you don`t have to worry about checking the dates on there because before you had to make sure they were in the date range for the voucher,” Mike Thurow said.

Vice president of Store Systems Mike Thurow said these checks had to be endorsed and then deposited into the bank.

He said there will also be no more looking at the approved product list for checkers.

“When they come to the front they are just like anybody else, they come and they use their card and the system checks to see if the products they have are on the approved items list, and then the transaction goes through,” he said.

So far more than 7,000 Arkansas WIC participants are receiving their benefits through these new cards. More than 73 thousand participants will have the new EBT cards by October.

WIC also now has an app called the WIC shopper app. The app allows WIC participants to scan the UPC code of the food they want to buy to make sure it's on the approved list.