Tuesday, December 15, 2009

USDA Official Will Visit Kentucky's New WIC EBT Project; Will Observe System Operations in WIC Clinics and Food Stores

This Friday, December 18, Dr. Janey Thornton , deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service will perform site visits in Kentucky to observe the State's new WIC Electronic Benefits Transfer system in action.

The system, called WIC Direct , has been in pilot operations for two months. WIC Direct delivers supplemental food benefits to eligible women, infants and children. It replaces use of paper checks with a magnetic-stripe card similar to a debit card. Currently only a handful of states are using EBT card technology to delivery WIC benefits. Kentucky is the latest.

A native Kentuckian, Dr. Thornton will be visiting a Walmart as well as a Houchens store as well as several WIC clinics where eligible consumers enroll to participate in the WIC program.

WIC Direct was developed by CDP ,  a company with a 25-year history of developing custom health system solutions for public and private sector customers. The WIC Direct system improves the check out process for WIC customers, allows them to check their balances, and reduces paper work for program staff.

The system, which was in development for two years, was designed to provide an affordable online solution to the problem of authorizing the sale of WIC food products, according to Stan Cochran, CDP chief executive. Because of the controls and regulations on the sale of WIC foods, the WIC retail transaction can be complex. Another goal of the project is to engage retailers in integrating the WIC EBT transaction into their own electronic cash register systems.

When fully deployed, the system will serve nearly 130,000 Kentuckians as well as over 1,100 retailers across the state.

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