State removes 5 county stores from WIC program Health department hopes to save money

Some needy families will have to switch grocery stores beginning today to keep using vouchers through the state's Women, Infants and Children Program.

But the change by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene should save money and lead to serving more women, officials said.


The five Carroll County stores dropped from the program are the Giant, Super Fresh, Westminster Co-operative and Martin's Food Market in Westminster, and the Myer's Super Thrift Market in Union Bridge.

Stores that will continue to participate are the Weis store in Westminster, Martin's Food Market in Eldersburg, Taneytown Super-Thrift and Super Thrift of Manchester.


Also, the Weis store in Mount Airy began participating today.

The state recently decided to sign up stores that could provide the groceries at the lowest cost. Stores that wanted to participate in WIC had to submit their prices for a market basket of food items often called for in the vouchers. Officials chose stores scattered around each region of the state.

Most stores that did not get chosen are appealing the decision, said Steve Trageser, assistant director of the WIC program for the state health department. That includes stores that were dropped and stores that applied to begin accepting vouchers but were denied, he said.

Clients exchange WIC vouchers at markets for specific items, such as a gallon of milk, a case of infant formula and a box of cereal. The vouchers are for items, not dollar amounts, which is different from food stamps. However, some clients may receive both kinds of benefits.

The state reimburses the store for the shelf price of the items, Mr. Trageser said.

In Carroll, the WIC program is run by the Carroll County Health Department on Washington Road.

Most clients are low-income pregnant, nursing or post-partum women and their children up to 5 years old.

To be eligible, a woman must meet two criteria:


* Her income must be no more than 185 percent of poverty level, such as $26,547 annually for a family of four; or she must be eligible for food stamps, medical assistance or Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

* She or the child must have an eligible medical condition, such as a pregnant teen or closely spaced pregnancies.