PAWHUSKA — Osage Nation Women, Infants and Children, a maternal and child health nutrition program, is now offering its families a new way to shop for WIC food benefits using an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card. After a quick set-up, new and current recipients can begin using their cards immediately.

“The EBT card has all the products and services the participant is supposed to receive and they can take that card to the grocery store immediately and purchase the products they have been approved for and swipe to pay instead of paying with a paper voucher,” said Scott Hilboldt, project manager for CDP.

The EBT process is easier to use and the participant does not have to purchase all approved products at once, they can get just the products they need when they need them. And, if they have an issue with their products or checking their balance, they don’t have to make a trip to the WIC clinic to have it addressed, participants and their proxies can call and have it taken care of in real-time.

“To see it come to fruition is like a dream come true,” said Osage WIC Director Manon Taylor who became the director a couple years after initial eWIC (electronic WIC) planning started. “So many people have been involved. We have done months of training with our staff. It’s been ongoing and we are at the point where [all the WIC staff] feels comfortable. It’s not only going to benefit our management of WIC resources and benefits but more importantly, it is going to benefit the client and alleviate some the stigma associated with standing at the checkout with paper vouchers.”

Participants use paper vouchers to buy healthy WIC foods. Now, with the new eWIC card, shopping will be easier and WIC families will be able to better track their monthly food balance. The new system also allows for better tracking of purchase trends for Osage WIC staff.

“With the tracking mechanisms, we can track, by product, what people are buying, [and] trends, like what time of day people are shopping the most and which stores they are shopping at the most. It helps with cost-containment. An integral part of the federal regulations for WIC is to provide cost-containment measures,” said Taylor about new data the eWIC card provides. “We always strive to keep costs low per participant while delivering the best nutritional value that we can.”

Osage Nation WIC provides services at six clinic sites throughout the Osage Reservation or Osage County and serves approximately 2,930 low-income pregnant women, infants, and children under age five. Monthly, Osage WIC families shop at more than thirty-two grocery stores and have a 2018 base grant of $1,960,374 for direct services food delivery. Nationally, WIC has been offering participant-centered nutrition education, healthy food, and breastfeeding support and has been serving as a gateway for preventative health for more than 40 years. It is considered one of the most successful, cost-effective and nutrition intervention programs in the U.S.

Call today to make an appointment to apply for an eWIC card with the Osage Nation, at 1-800-460-1006.

— Osage Nation communications