PHOENIX — Arizona has stopped writing checks to families who get federal nutritional and education aid under the Women, Infants, and Children Program known as WIC.

The Department of Health Services announced Tuesday that it completed a yearslong effort to convert the payments to a debit-card system. The new system makes it easier and more secure for families to shop for formula, milk, cheese and other foods that are considered vital for young children and mothers.

Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ says the switch from paper to electronic payments is also more efficient.

WIC serves nearly 140,000 Arizona women, infants and children under age 6 and distributed nearly $117 million in food aid last year.

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