Participants’ Underlying Beliefs of Using WIC Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards in Stores in New Jersey

Yeon Bai, Anna Ciecierski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is an essential nutrition assistance program that has led to successful health outcomes and healthcare access. To alleviate discomfort associated with WIC shopping at stores, the Congress mandated the transition to electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card system from paper vouchers. This study aimed to explore the experiences of WIC recipients in using EBT cards in stores. WIC recipients from one WIC clinic in northern New Jersey (N = 220) participated in this study. An online survey was framed under the theory of planned behavior to probe their underlying behavioral, normative, and control beliefs of using EBT cards. Using content analyses, dominating themes of each belief were extracted. Participants composed of Hispanic (91.2%) with mean age of 31.68 (SD = 7.69). Most frequently mentioned advantages of using EBT cards were convenience and ease (34.3%) followed by fast and efficient (28.5%). Participants noted that most people would approve of using EBT cards (70%), especially those who receive the benefits and approve of the public assistance (16.7%). They stated that having improved store inventory and an increase in WIC-authorized stores (17.2%) would make the EBT cards use easy. The transition to EBT cars allowed purchase flexibility, alleviated stigma and the purchase process burdens, but the challenges associated with WIC app usage and store specific issues remained. These challenges should be addressed in future intervention to enable WIC recipients more engaged in using the EBT cards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1038-1043
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • EBT cards
  • Theory of Planned Behavior
  • Underlying beliefs
  • WIC


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