FNS Awards Grant to Louisiana to Provide Mobile Payment Options for WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
DALLAS, September 23, 2022 – USDA Food and Nutrition Service today awarded Louisiana a $250,000 grant as part of the third round of Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) 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.
A grant is being awarded to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. The grant funds will be used 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 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 Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry will use the award for a closed-loop Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) payment solution. This will replace the use of paper cash value vouchers for the distribution of WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) benefits. Participants will use the SoliMarket Shopper Card that features a QR code and human readable card number to initiate purchases from approved farmers using the SoliMarket Register app.
“Partnering with local communities ensures everyone has access to nutritious, cost-effective foods, while supporting local farmers,” said FNS Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig. “Improving technology available at farmers’ markets makes a few things easier – FNS can better serve the region, families can buy the foods they need, and neighborhood vendors can reach even more customers.”
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. A second round of Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Benefit Delivery Modernization Grants is expected later this year. A second round of Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Benefit Delivery Modernization Grants is expected later this year.
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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