Community, Government, Latest News

‘SNAP’ping to Attention

WVDHHR working to keep state’s families fed and healthy

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) recently updated a couple of its programs for West Virginia residents.

On Jan. 8, the DHHR announced that ALDI grocery stores now offer online purchasing options for West Virginians using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The new online ordering ability for SNAP recipients is conducted through the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program.

Jacquelyn Hoppe, director of the DHHR’s Office of EBT Banking Services, said the addition to the program was done in the hopes of making food more safely accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Helping our clients gain access to food with increased protection for social distancing is important. By enabling online card transactions, West Virginia’s EBT cardholders can now purchase groceries for delivery or pick up with minimal contact,” Hoppe said.

Also on Jan. 8, the DHHR revealed the expansion of food items available for purchase with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Emma Walters, Nutrition Services Coordinator with the West Virginia WIC Program, said the changes were necessary to support healthier eating in WIC recipients.

“This better serves West Virginians by supporting a diet rich in fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, and it also reflects the ability of WIC to adapt and respond to participant requests. Together, these changes confirm the program can meet the diverse nutritional needs of mothers, children, and infants, especially in times of chaos, confusion, and need,” Walters said.

WIC provides pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, children, and infants up to age 5 with foods high in nutritional value as well as provides nutrition and breastfeeding education, and referrals to health and social services.

Heidi Staats, State WIC Director for West Virginia, said the options on the WIC approved foods list are reviewed by the Office of Nutrition Services every two years. Participant and retailer surveys are conducted, and redemption patterns are examined during the review to help the team make decisions regarding the products they offer.

“We implemented this actually in October of 2020, [and] we made significant changes by adding lactose-free yogurt…we also increased the options of whole-fat yogurt, which is specifically for infants 12 to 24 months, which can be harder to find. We also added several varieties of soy milk options. Typically, before we only had two options, and now we’re up to 4 options,” Staats said.

According to Staats, the Office of Nutrition Services also decided to expand the list’s selection of breads and buns, whole grain pastas, and added a new category of oats as a whole grain option.

Staats said the foods designated by the WIC program are rich in nutrients needed by a vulnerable population and to address issues such as anemia, obesity, and malnourishment. For WIC recipients who want to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, Staats said it shouldn’t be difficult to do.

“Utilizing your WIC food package…with your other foods as staple items to serve as a backbone and ensure that you have a balanced plate. Choose foods that are high in those vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed for those important periods of development for children, pregnant women, and postpartum women,” Staats said.

While stores such as Dollar General do not accept WIC benefits, and places like Mountain People’s Co-op are working toward supporting WIC benefits, the DHHR has made it simple to find shops in select areas that do accept those benefits with their website’s store search tool.

For the Morgantown area, the DHHR lists Price Cutter, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Walmart, and Par Mar as locations where WIC benefits are accepted. WIC benefits are also accepted at some farmer’s or specialty markets.

To view WIC’s full approved foods list, visit

To find out which stores near you accept WIC benefits, visit