FNS Awards Connecticut Grant to Provide Mobile Payment Options for WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
WASHINGTON, September 23, 2022 – USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) today awarded the Connecticut Department of Agriculture a $250,000 grant as part of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Benefit Delivery Modernization Grants. This investment will help improve equitable access to locally grown fruits and vegetables for participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as WIC.
Grants are being awarded to Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, District of Columbia Department of Health, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Rhode Island Department of Health, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, The Chickasaw Nation, and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Each will use grant funds to purchase mobile-friendly software or web-based services that streamline benefit delivery for participants, farmers and WIC FMNP state agencies and can help increase the use of benefits at farmers’ markets.
“Supply chain issues have affected families around the country, but fortunately, shopping at your local farmers’ market is one way to ensure immediate access to fresh produce,” said USDA FNS Administrator Cindy Long. “These mobile-friendly solutions make it easier for eligible WIC participants to buy fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to help provide the healthiest start for their families.”
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DOAG) will transition from the distribution of WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP) paper benefits to a mobile closed loop, EBT payment solution. CT DOAG will contract with SoliSYSTEMS, to implement its e-solution that will not only make the distribution of benefits more efficient and streamlined, but over the two years of the proposed transition, shall enable increased redemption and use of WIC FMNP benefits. Participants can use the SoliMarket Shopper, a mobile app WIC participants can download and utilize as their mobile wallet to manage e-benefits and purchase eligible food items from participating farmers; or the SoliMarket Shopper Card, a physical card and the alternative for WIC participants who prefer or need an option other than a smart phone application.
“USDA commends Connecticut for modernizing the benefit delivery of the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program,” said Christine Ruggieri, Acting Regional Administrator for USDA FNS. “This is an example of program modernization efforts to increase access and redemption of benefits in a way that meets people where they are, while supporting the livelihood of local farmers.”
The WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides eligible participants coupons to buy fresh, unprepared fruits and vegetables from local farmers, farmers’ markets or roadside stands that have been approved by their state agency to accept FMNP benefits.
These grants are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and are part of a larger group of ARPA initiatives to modernize the WIC and Farmers Market Nutrition programs. The grants demonstrate the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to improve nutrition security for all Americans, especially historically underserved populations.
USDA is aware of the continuing infant formula shortage and is working tirelessly to address any impacts on WIC participants. Information about the USDA response can be found here Infant Formula Safety | Food and Nutrition Service (usda.gov).
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.
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