ROCKINGHAM — The Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance program rolled out a new system in Richmond County this week that the state hopes will make things easier for the health department and recipients.
Josephine Cialone, head of nutritional services for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said the transition has been a smooth one.
“Richmond County is in our fifth group of counties to upgrade. We’ve been preparing them for the past couple of years,” Cialone said. “There is a staff member there this week in case they need additional help starting out, but they’ve received a lot of training and it’s gone well.”
State human services officials said WIC recipients will benefit from easier scheduling, quicker food instrument pickup and quicker in-state transfers. Applicants will be asked fewer questions at check-in and those approved for the program will receive food packages better tailored to meet their family’s needs, according to NCDHHS.
The federal government selected North Carolina as the lead state in a four state consortium for the new program, called Crossroads. Crossroads is designed to make the WIC program more user-friendly by updating it from paper-based files to electronic records.
In the past, recipients often had to answer the same question on multiple forms, Cialone said. The new system integrates the old data and eliminates duplicate information while making it easier for application preparers to create or update records.
Cialone added that electronic files will help the health department to notice when a client may be eligible for other services such as food stamps or housing assistance. She said the new system won’t screen applicants for additional services, but will make information easier to spot. A worker might notice a reason to direct a client to other appropriate departments based on information in the electronic files.
To learn more about the new version of WIC, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/crossroads/ To make an appointment to apply for WIC, contact Saquana Miller-Stevenson at the Richmond County Health Department at 910-997-8370.