Investment to Improve Access to Nutritious Foods
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced technology grants totaling nearly $14 million to 13 states to improve technology and enhance benefit delivery systems for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC). Funded by the FY 2010 agriculture appropriations bill, States will use these grants to conduct electronic benefits transfer (EBT) planning and implementation activities to expand the use of EBT in WIC as well as promote technical standardization in various areas of the program.
"With the WIC program now reaching half of all babies born in the United States, we must take every opportunity to enhance program access and participation by using the latest technology available," said Vilsack. "These investments will allow us to deliver benefits efficiently, affordably and securely while working towards the Obama administration's goal of ensuring that all Americans have access to a proper nutrition."
WIC safeguards the health of more than 9 million low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk by providing supplemental food benefits, nutrition education, counseling, and breastfeeding support. The grants announced today will build on the successes of the $100 million investment made in WIC EBT and existing technology projects by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"These new technology grants will help increase the quality of WIC nutrition services and benefits provided to participants," said Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. "We are hopeful that WIC clinics will experience greater efficiencies through the replacement of old, complex paper systems as they transition to EBT technology."
Improving USDA's child nutrition programs on behalf of 32 million kids across the nation is a top priority of the Obama Administration. Strengthening the Child Nutrition Act, which authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs, including WIC and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign. Expanding EBT nationwide is a provision included in the Act. This legislation will serve as a down payment in battling hunger and food insecurity while providing critical resources to raise a generation of healthy children. To learn more about the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign, visit www.LetsMove.gov.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs including the child nutrition programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance program.
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