By the late summer/early fall, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) will be closing all 81 of its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food distribution sites throughout the state.
A news release outlined that this move comes as WIC clients throughout the nation are being transferred to the use of electronic banking and a debit card for food purchases due to a federal mandate.
The process has also started in Mississippi. The eWIC card will be more convenient for clients as they will have a choice of where to purchase food and infant formula. The list of products has been expanded as well. The eWIC phased rollout will take place over the next few months. For now, clients will have paper vouchers to take to the existing food centers for WIC food.
A past announcement from the MSDH explained that participants will be able to use the eWIC card much like an EBT card. In most locations, there will be an approved grocery store and pharmacy within a 20-mile radius for metro areas and a 30-mile radius for rural areas, of their local WIC clinic. This will allow WIC to achieve its goal more effectively, which is to provide nutrition education, breastfeeding support and supplemental food for eligible pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to the age of 5.
Currently, 85,000 Mississippians are enrolled in the WIC Program. Approximately 70 positions will be eliminated as a result of the closures.