Parents who receive WIC in Montgomery and Carroll counties can breathe a little easier – for now. The office is still closing, but there will be time given to prepare for the transition. The WIC Distribution office, located on Applegate Street, is set to officially close July 30, 2021.
Earlier in May, Montgomery County Chancery Clerk Ryan Wood said Greta Purnell came before the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors to seek approval to renovate an office in the Mississippi Department of Health, located on Alberta Drive. Wood said Purnell asked to install new floor coverings and change the locks to the doors.
According to a Dec. 2019 store, on the WLBT-TV website out of Jackson said the transition would happen sometime before Oct. 1, 2020. Once the transition takes place, the state will start using electronic benefits transfer cards that will allow recipients on the Women, Infants and Children program to buy food at grocery stores and pharmacies. Most states are already doing that, and Mississippi is among the few still using a warehouse distribution system. The story was first reported by the Commercial Dispatch in Columbus.
“The health department will be providing information to WIC participants over the next six months outlining the changes coming to WIC in 2021,” Liz Sharlot, Director of Communications with the Mississippi Department of Health, said in an email.
The pilot program will begin on Oct. 12 in Forrest County and Oct. 26 in Lauderdale County. The first rollout, which will cover counties in the Southwestern and a little in the Southeastern portion of the state, on Jan. 19, 2021.
The second rollout, which will include Grenada and Tallahatchie counties, will begin Feb. 8, 2021. The last date for the WIC Distribution office in Grenada and Tallahatchie counties will be June 30, 2021.
The third rollout, which will include Carroll, Montgomery, Choctaw, Holmes, Attala, Webster, Winston, Oktibbeha, Bolivar, Sunflower, Leflore, Clay, Chickasaw, Washington, Lowndes and Noxubee counties, will begin March 1, 2021. The last date for recipients in the region to use their benefits at the distribution center will be May 31, 2021.
And the last rollout will include counties in the Southeastern portion of the state including coastal counties.
Sharlot said WIC is currently accepting applications for grocery stores and pharmacies who would like to become WIC certified. She said webinars are also being held explaining how the process will work.
“The new eWIC cards will be accepted at any WIC authorized grocery store and pharmacy. Dollar General and convenience stores currently do not meet the minimum standards to be authorized WIC grocery stores. [Mississippi] WIC is currently accepting applications from grocery stores and pharmacies throughout the state to become WIC authorized,” Sharlot said. “Current WIC participants are being provided information about the transition process via local WIC clinics. Grocery stores and pharmacies are being provided information via direct mailers, television and social media, contact with professional organizations, and monthly vendor advisory webinars. These webinars are open to the public. More information for vendors is available at www.freshnewwic.com.”