NEWARK, Ohio (WTVN) -- A new system for the Ohio Women, Infant, and Child program is being tested in Licking and Greene Counties. It does away with the current coupon system put in place in 1999 and replaces it with an electronic card.

"It will make it quicker for the WIC staff at the local offices, for the individuals who are on the program when they actually go to the grocery store, the checkout process will be much, much faster," said Todd Kirkpatrick, Licking County's WIC director.

The change also allows the state to better track usage and vendors to get paid quicker.

Ohio will join nine other states using an electronic benefit system to run the program once it expands the change statewide by the end of 2015.

“Everyone - participants, vendors and WIC staff - are excited about the change,” said Kirkpatrick.

WIC beneficiaries have their benefits loaded to the new cards during their nutrition visits at the health department. They can then swipe the card at grocery stores the same way they would a debit card, as opposed to the coupons beneficiaries would provide the store before. With the coupons, each purchase had to be done separately. The card allows all purchases to be done at one time.

WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support), and referrals to health and other social services to participants at no charge. WIC serves low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age five who are at nutrition risk.