Port Townsend WIC office operating on limited services

Facility transitioning to new card system in place of checks

PORT TOWNSEND — The Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program’s offices are operating with limited services until Nov. 1, as staff members prepare to introduce the replacement for its checks.

The Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program — commonly known as WIC — is implementing a card-based system to replace its check-based program.

“We want to invite people to still come in if they need our attention,” Apple Martine, community health director for Jefferson Public Health, said. “We can not provide them with the technical services that we normally offer as we do this transition to the new card system.

“People can come in with concerns and they certainly can come in for information on scheduling needs and desires for once we’re open on the first. That’s about it. We’re calling it limited service because there is staff here.”

WIC began operating on a limited basis Monday, and during the 10-day period the team will work on converting its system and interface over to “Cascades,” which will support the new cards and provide other services, Martine said.

“We won’t be able to issue WIC checks as we have in the past,” Martine said. “That is now a thing of the past. So we will be able issue scannable cards once we reopen on the first.

“We didn’t want to close down completely, because we know people have needs and questions … but we won’t have the usual services,” Martine said.

“We won’t have any appointments. None of the WIC staff will see clients during their usual appointments during this closure.”

Benefits of the new cards include:

 Clients will receive the same foods as before, but will have more flexibility in how they shop.

 One card will include foods for all WIC participants in the family, instead of keeping track of separate checks.

 Clients will be able to buy just the items they want at any given time in the month of benefits.

• Families can also shop throughout the month, rather than having to purchase all of their WIC food in one trip.

WIC has been informing its clients for months that this reduction in service would be happening, but the team did not want to close completely at its 615 Sheridan St. location, Martine said.

“The state was sort of encouraging us to close for those days,” Martine said. “We wanted people to know that office is still open … but we’re not having typical visits.”

Once the office opens Nov. 1, WIC clients will need to go to the office to get set up with their new cards and the WIC staff will instruct them on how to use it, what’s changed and other perks the new system has, Martine said.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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