Texas WIC customers can purchase a wider variety of grocery items during pandemic

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health’s Women, Infants, and Children — more commonly known as WIC — program announced Tuesday that the items that its cardholders can now purchase has expanded.

In response to demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Health and Human Services expanded the list to ensure those who need access to nutritious food will be able to find it.

Items at the grocery store with a pink sticker that says “WIC Approved” are products eligible for shoppers to purchase using WIC. Participants now have more purchasing options for milk, bread, rice, pasta and eggs, and canned fruits and vegetables have been added to the food package.

Expanded items include organic meals and various whole wheat breads — which customers can now get of any brand and in larger amounts.

Additionally, WIC is stepping up its response to the surge in applications.

WIC says customers who apply online should be contacted within 48-72 hours, though this timeframe is not guaranteed. New customers can expect to be verified over the phone right away, which WIC says shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

“We’re receiving a large volume of applications,” said Diana Flores, WIC Community Engagement Coordinator for the City of Austin on Tuesday. “We’re trying to get back to applicants. It’s not for sure that they’ll receive a phone call after 72 hours have past, but we’re trying.”

Currently, WIC is sending new cards out. Approved customers should receive their cards within 2-3 business days, but this is not guaranteed.

Flores says that there is no deadline for the expansion — so far — but that WIC is monitoring based on what the state departments say.

Flores says clients who are being called now will receive four months of benefits. So these changes will keep going for those four months unless changes come from health authorities. Those customers will not need to worry until July (end of the four-month period) as WIC figures out how it will proceed.

Participants can find detailed information on the Texas WIC website. Current clients can e-mail WICHelp@AustinTexas.gov if they need benefits or have questions. Prospective clients can start a WIC application at TexasWIC.org/Apply

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