Cayuga County program simplifies WIC system

After 40 years of using a tedious and inefficient paper check system, the Women, Infants and Children program in Cayuga County has transitioned to a debit card system that gives power and control back to its participants, Cayuga County WIC program coordinator Beth Huber said.

“It really is the whole new world of WIC. It’s a really, really exciting time to be part of this program,” said Huber, who’s worked with WIC in New York for 20 years. “This is the most exciting change, hands down.”

In the past, people who were enrolled in WIC would receive their food benefits with a paper check system. Depending on if you were a woman, infant or child, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — which sponsors WIC — had specific food packages participants were eligible for, Huber said. The checks were issued per participant and the benefits listed on the checks were non-negotiable. For example, if a WIC benefit check prescribed two gallons of milk, cheese, eggs and cereal, participants had to purchase all of those things at once, even if they only needed eggs. This often led to food waste or, for example, participants freezing milk, Huber said.

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