ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new initiative that gives better access to the state's Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
The New York State Department of Health is partnering with Code for America for a live, online chat program that allow the agency to gather client feedback that will help improve the WIC program and enrollment statewide.
"Despite being a critical resource for struggling families, the WIC program isn't used by nearly as many New Yorkers who are eligible for these food benefits or by many families who are already enrolled in the program," Gov. Hochul said.
"This initiative will help us identify ways to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles, simplify the enrollment processes and implement new technology so that struggling families have better access to healthy, nutritious foods."
The new live, online program will take over the NYSDOH's automated chat bot that is currently on the WIC page.
The state says live interaction will help guide applicants through the process of enrolling and helping those already enrolled with resources on how to use their benefits.
The second phase of the project will be implementing the improvements based on feedback from users to the WIC program.
Acting Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "By gathering input from families participating in the WIC program, we can enhance the customer experience and make it easier for New York families to access the nutritious foods required for healthy growth and development of children. By collaborating with Code for America to test live chat and other techniques for gathering input, we can seek ways to help increase participation and make the program more user-friendly for those who depend on WIC."
The WIC program provides funding to states for foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women; and to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.
For more more information, https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/wic/