Pilot project will target Western Kentucky counties
On Dec. 28, The Department for Public Health (DPH) announced that the Kentucky WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program has been awarded more than $2.1 million in competitive grant funds to help improve the program’s efficiency and the way clients are served.
The funding will pay for an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) pilot project to test the effectiveness of a program in Warren and Barren counties, where there are approximately 4,000 WIC clients and 30 contracted vendors. The pilot project is expected to enhance the shopping experience of all WIC customers by ensuring confidentiality during transactions and allowing them the opportunity to shop as frequently as they wish.
In addition, the project will help ensure that retailers allow participants to purchase only WIC-authorized foods and in the correct quantities, while removing the margin of cashier error during WIC transactions. Health officials also expect that payments made to retailers will be more streamlined.
“This grant award represents a remarkable achievement for the WIC Program and our staff in DPH,” said Mark D. Birdwhistell, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “Ultimately, this will dramatically improve the delivery of services for all WIC clients.”
In April, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), sought applications from state agencies to develop, test and evaluate an integrated online EBT system using a magnetic strip card with existing retail equipment. The pilot program in western Kentucky will test and integrate an EBT system already in existence, but currently not evaluated.
“We’re extremely excited about this award because it will help us improve services to our clients,” said William Hacker, M.D., acting undersecretary for health and public health commissioner. “WIC is a wonderful program that has helped provide improved health and welfare for thousands of women and children. This pilot project will strengthen the program even further.”
Through state pilot projects, FNS plans to identify technically and financially viable national models by 2008.
“The EBT pilot project should not only take the stigma away from the WIC transaction for the shopper, but will also give the retailer confidence in knowing that the shopper received the proper prescription of supplemental foods and that the transaction was completed accurately,” said Fran Hawkins, manager for the DPH nutrition services branch.
WIC is a short-term intervention program designed to influence lifetime nutrition and health behavior in a targeted high-risk population. WIC is funded by the USDA.
For more information about the program, call (502) 564-3827 or (800) 462-6122.