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

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Friday, September 23, 2022

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

These federal dollars “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.”

Only a few agencies in the US received grants.

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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 RI WIC eFMNP Implementation Project will use the FarmMarket Direct (FMD) system provided by Custom Data Processing, Inc (CDP), which provides an Electronic Benefit Transfer solution for redeeming WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program benefits at farmers’ markets via CDP’s FMD system , which uses QR code technology and the CDP Farmer Portal.

“FNS commends Rhode Island 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 improving nutrition security for all Americans, especially historically underserved populations.

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