New York State Department of Health Announces Electronic Benefit Card for Women, Infants, and Children Program for Greater Rochester Area and Finger Lakes Region

New Debit Cards Create Convenient Shopping Experience for More than 28,000 Participants Regionally

eWIC Technology Now Available at Stores in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates Counties

Implementation Ahead of USDA 2020 Deadline to Adopt eWIC Technology

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 8, 2018) - The New York State Department of Health today announced the next step in the statewide rollout of eWIC, an electronic benefits transfer card which eliminates paper checks and provides a more convenient way for families in the Women, Infants, and Children program to shop for WIC foods. Today's expansion brings WIC stores online in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.

"As a mother I can't imagine the pain of knowing you don't have the ability to give your child their next meal,"said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended today's event."We have already heard from grateful families about the difference that the eWIC technology has made in ensuring they have access to nutritious food, without the shame that can be felt holding up a grocery line using an outdated system. By bringing the WIC system into the 21st Century, we're enhancing this critical benefits program and promoting convenient shopping for all New Yorkers."

"With more counties and providers coming online with eWIC, we are simplifying the shopping experience for WIC families and retailers," said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. All families deserve easy access to the types of food necessary for childhood development and overall good health, and I look forward to a continued successful rollout statewide."

eWIC, which works like a debit card, makes shopping with WIC benefits easier and allows WIC vendors to be reimbursed faster.The new eWIC technology also allows families to roll over any unused benefits from a shopping trip toward future purchases during the same month. The release of eWIC technology in the Greater Rochester area and Finger Lakes region follows the success of a pilot in Albany, Schenectady, and Rensselaer counties this past spring, expansion to the remainder of the Capital Region in late September, and Central New York, North Country, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier in October. eWIC cards are now accepted at all 153 WIC stores in the Greater Rochester Area and Finger Lakes region and over 500 WIC stores throughout the state.

New York State will continue to release eWIC throughout the Buffalo area and the remainder of Western New York this month before moving downstate in early 2019. eWIC technology will be available statewide for all WIC participants and WIC stores by spring 2019.

In addition to eWIC, the Department of Health launched a new mobile application called WIC2Go to make shopping for WIC foods easier. WIC2Go allows users to scan the barcode on a product to see if it is WIC-approved. Users can also check their WIC account balance, view their upcoming WIC appointments, and locate WIC stores and clinics.

WIC offers nutritious foods, education on nutrition, advice for healthy living, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals to eligible New York families with young children, and women who are pregnant. Registered dietitians are on staff at WIC sites to give one-on-one nutrition advice. WIC serves more than 400,000 women, infants, and children each month with services provided at 400 clinics throughout the state. WIC food benefits can be redeemed at approximately 3,000 authorized WIC stores across the state. WIC is funded and monitored by the USDA. USDA has mandated that all states adopt eWIC technology by the year 2020.

Society for the Protection of Children (SPCC) Finger Lakes WIC Coordinator, Cindy Walton said: "Our participants are very excited about eWIC. When families come in for the first WIC appointment, they talk about looking forward to simply swiping a card instead of using multiple paper checks to pay for WIC foods. Our families also love the WIC2Go app. Most of our participants either have the app already downloaded before they come in, or do so when they come in. They love that they can see all of their foods and their next appointment shows up immediately!"

Allegany County WIC Program Coordinator Lauri Smith, said: "Participants of the Allegany County DOH WIC program have voiced their pleasure that the NYS WIC program haslistened to their concerns regarding issues with their shopping experience. They are very excited about being able to purchase only the items they need at each shopping visit, beingable to choose between certain items at the store (ex: beans or peanut butter),and the ability to be discreet with the eWIC card.Many participants have stated that with the WIC2Go app and the ability to scan foods before they get to the check-out they will be morelikely to trya different variety of the nutritious foods that WIC offers; without the fear of getting to the checkout to find out it isn't a WIC acceptable food.Those who have received their eWIC pin and have been able to navigate the WIC2Go applovethat they can check their balance, change/reset their pin, and state the site is colorful and easy to use."

Fathers, grandparents, foster parents, and other caregivers may apply for WIC benefits for their infants and young children. Many working families qualify and individuals who are already enrolled in Medicaid, SNAP or TANF automatically meet the income qualifications for WIC. To find a local clinic, applicants can call the Growing Up Healthy Hotline at 1-800-522-5006, visit the New York State Department of Health website at, or use the WIC2Go mobile application. For more information on eWIC, families can visit and vendors can visit