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Debit Cards to Replace Paper Vouchers for Moms Using WIC

Sodanie Chea via Flickr/CC -

The government benefits program for women and children, known as WIC, is getting an upgrade in New Hampshire.

WIC provides benefits to about 12,000 low-income New Hampshire residents to help cover the cost of healthy groceries. Until recently, mothers using WIC redeemed their benefits with a paper voucher, but by the end of 2018 all participants in the state will redeem their benefits with a WIC debit card.

Lissa Sirois, administrator of Nutrition Services for the N.H. Division of Public Health Services, says paper vouchers were inconvenient because they required mothers to use their benefits all at once, and they were a source of stigma.

"Paper vouchers really just screamed assistance in the line," she says. "So moving to this card really removes that. Now when they're doing checkout, they're just running a card as if anyone was running a card to pay for their food." 

All states are required to go though this upgrade by 2020.  The other New England states still transitioning from paper vouchers to electronic benefits  are Maine and Rhode Island.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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