SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Women, infants and children, also known as WIC benefits, are getting a timely upgrade in the Coastal Health District.

On Monday, Georgia’s Department of Public Health unveiled a new electronic WIC card that will offer quick, easy and discrete checkouts compared to the paper method of old.

“The program has to keep pace with the times, so we want to make sure we’re issuing benefits in a modern, efficient way and by switching to a new computer system and issuing benefits on a card, they’ve taken the process from enrollment from a couple of hours down to just about an hour,” said Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services with USDA.

According to GDPH, nearly half of Georgia mothers qualify for WIC benefits, with around 18,000 mothers currently enrolled in Chatham County. 

More than 5,000 of them are taking part in the pilot program here in the Coastal Health District. Fatina Frayall is one of the participants.

“I actually love using the card instead of the vouchers. It makes it an easier process instead of having to look at each individual voucher and sort through those list of items,” said Fatina Frayall, a local e-WIC participant.

“I have a small baby, he’s 3 months and my daughter she’s 8, so having to take that time to say stop, let me get this, let me put this in order, letting the cashier know that I have WIC vouchers just to let them know my transaction might be a bit more time consuming, it does help. It’s like using a regular debit card,” Frayall added.

Officials say the Coastal Health District was the perfect place to debut their new electronic cards due to the diversity of urban and rural clinics, the variety of vendors as well as the number of military bases the area serves.

“Well, it sounds like the Coastal Health District is really representative of all of Georgia. It’s got small and large communities, it’s got military bases and success here will be a terrific indicator for success across the whole state,” Dean explained.

Those that qualify for WIC benefits can visit the Chatham County Health Department to pick up their e-WIC card.

Officials say, the program will be rolled out in 5 waves.

They expect to launch the new electronic cards throughout the entire state of Georgia by the end of October.