Arizona has stopped writing checks to families who get federal nutritional and education aid under the Women, Infants, and Children Program known as WIC.
The Department of Health Services announced Tuesday that it completed a year long effort to convert the payments to a debit-card system. The new system makes it easier and more secure for families to shop for formula, milk, cheese and other foods that are considered vital for young children and mothers.
Jennifer Chancay with the Pima County Health Deaprtment says staff went to markets in town and scanned labels that would be allowed for purchase with the WIC program.
If a client were to choose a wrong item - it would get rejected.
Chancay says the new system is confidential and efficient.
"It's a win-win for everyone. It's less time at the store, less time for the cashier, much better for clients and the person who is waiting in line behind the WIC clients."
WIC serves nearly 140,000 Arizona women, infants and children under age 6 and distributed nearly $117 million in food aid last year.