WASHINGTON — USDA Food and Nutrition Service today awarded Maine a grant as part of the first round of 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 the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, WIC Nutrition Program. 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 Maine DHHS CDC WIC will receive more than $32,000 to modify its existing cash value benefit platform to include eFMNP capability and implement changes in its SPIRIT MIS system to meet the primary goal of the grant opportunity – to provide funding to implement an available and tested electronic, mobile WIC FMNP solution.
“USDA commends Maine for modernizing its WIC program to enable participants easy access to fresh produce and to support the livelihood of local farmers,” said Lizbeth Silbermann, Northeast Regional Administrator for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. “This mobile capability is another example of Maine WIC meeting families where they are.”
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.
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.
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.