Feds Award RI Grant to Provide Mobile Payment Options for WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program


Friday, 09/23/2022

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The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced Friday that it has awarded the Rhode Island Department of Health an $80,826 grant under the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Benefits Delivery Modernization Grants.

These federal dollars “will help increase equal access to locally grown fruits and vegetables for participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as the WIC.”

Few agencies in the US received grants.

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Grants are 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 Western Health and Virginia Department of Human Resources.

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Each will use grant funds to purchase mobile-friendly software or web-based services that can streamline the delivery of benefits to attendees, farmers, and WIC FMNP state agencies, and help increase the uptake of benefits at farmers’ markets.

“Supply chain issues have hit families across the country, but fortunately, shopping at the local farmer’s market is one way to ensure immediate access to fresh produce,” said Cindy Long, USDA FNS administrator. “These mobile-friendly solutions make it easier for eligible WIC participants to purchase fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables to give their families the healthiest start.”

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The RI WIC eFMNP implementation project will utilize the FarmMarket Direct (FMD) system provided by Custom Data Processing, Inc (CDP), which is an electronic benefit transfer solution for redeeming WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program benefits at farmers’ markets via the FMD system from CDP that uses QR code technology and the CDP Farmer Portal.

“FNS commends Rhode Island for modernizing the service 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 improve access to and redemption of benefits in a way that meets people where they are while supporting the livelihoods of local farmers.”

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The WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program offers eligible participants coupons to purchase fresh, unprepared fruits and vegetables from local farmers, farmers’ markets or street stands that have been approved by their state agency to accept FMNP benefits.

Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, these grants 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 improving food security for all Americans, particularly historically underserved populations.

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