Alabama’s WIC program transitioning to electronic transfer cards
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced the beginning of Alabama’s eWIC pilot project which will be launched in two phases starting today. Participants in the Alabama WIC Program in Autauga, Elmore and Montgomery counties are being issued the state’s first eWIC electronic benefit transfer cards.
WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services. The mission of the WIC Program is to improve the health and nutritional status of women, infants and children during critical times of growth and development.
Through this new system, benefits for WIC-approved foods are automatically entered onto a card that is similar to a debit card. This card replaces the current paper-based food instruments and cash-value vouchers which are redeemed at WIC-authorized stores statewide. Each month more than 120,000 Alabama participants at nutritional risk receive WIC benefits through all county health departments and with two private local agencies. There are currently 638 WIC-authorized stores in the state. In 2018, participants redeemed almost $97 million in food instruments at WIC-authorized stores statewide.
Alabama WIC Program Director Amanda Martin said, “I want to thank all of the program staff that have been involved with eWIC implementation and our clinic staff who see participants daily to provide WIC services. We have been working towards this milestone since 2009 and are extremely happy to begin this pilot.”
Recognizing the value of eWIC, the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates that each state WIC agency implement an electronic benefit transfer system throughout the state by October 1, 2020.
Stacey Neumann, WIC Vendor Management director and eWIC project manager, said, “We are very excited to begin our eWIC pilot. Vendor enablement is a key piece to implementing eWIC. I want to thank all our authorized WIC vendors for their hard work in preparing for eWIC implementation.”
EWIC will bring many benefits to WIC participants and authorized WIC vendors. These benefits include:
- Less stigma for the WIC participants
- Smoother transaction at the register
- Reduced time “in lane”
- Automatic electronic payments to the vendors
Ellie Taylor, Alabama Grocers Association president, said, “AGA was proud to partner with the Alabama Department of Public Health, WIC Division, on the planning and implementation of eWIC in our state. For retailers and WIC participants, eWIC will be a tremendous improvement to the overall shopping experience with smoother transactions at the register, streamlining of processing, and reduced checkout times. Our retailers are excited to move forward with eWIC as we continue to offer quality customer service to all Alabama consumers.”
The second phase of the eWIC rollout will begin April 1, and includes the remainder of the counties in the East Central and the Northeastern districts of the Alabama Department of Public Health. These are Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, DeKalb, Etowah, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Randolph, Russell, St. Clair, Shelby, Talladega and Tallapoosa counties. The pilot area has 36,000 participants, 27 clinics and 192 authorized WIC vendors.
After the pilot, implementation in other districts is scheduled as follows:
- June: Northern District (approximately 24,961 participants, 15 clinics, 143 WIC vendors)
- July: West Central and Jefferson Districts (approximately 24,967 participants, 20 clinics, 130 WIC vendors)
- August: Southeastern, Mobile and Southwestern Districts (approximately 34,292 participants, 35 clinics, 174 WIC vendors)
Contact your county health department for more information or visit alabamapublichealth.gov/WIC.
eWIC Transaction at Eastbrook Food Outlet in Montgomery, Alabama
2019 BUY ALABAMA’S BEST RETAIL CAMPAIGN LAUNCH AWARDS
2018 DISPLAY CONTEST WINNERS & PRESENTS CHECK
TO CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA FOR $51,639
The 2019 Buy Alabama’s Best Retail Campaign Launch Awards luncheon was recently held at The Club. The group is made up of the Alabama Grocers Association, the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, and the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association.
Presentations were made by Commissioner Rick Pate, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Mrs. Ellie Taylor, President, Alabama Grocers Association; Mr. Frank D’Amico, III of BTC Wholesale Distributors and Chairman, Alabama Grocers Association; Mr. Johnny Collins of Dean Foods and President, Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association; and Dr. Frederick Goldman, MD, Director, Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program, Children’s of Alabama. Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association members as well as retailers and wholesalers throughout the state of Alabama were also in attendance.
Commissioner Rick Pate, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Mr. Johnny Collins, President, Alabama Food Manufactures and Producers Association; and Mr. Frank D’Amico, III, Chairman, Alabama Grocers Association, presented Display Contest Award Certificates for 2018.
These displays featured participating Alabama food products to help consumers identify which products are headquartered, produced or manufactured in the state of Alabama. First Place awards were given to Gardendale Foodland.
During the months of March and September, a portion of the sales of participating Alabama food product companies along with retail sales of icons were raised for the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Children’s of Alabama.
A check was presented to Dr. Frederick Goldman in the amount of $51,639 for 2018. Since 2006, the Buy Alabama’s Best Campaign has raised $777,672 to fight pediatric cancer.
“This generous donation from local Alabama businesses associated with the Alabama Grocers Association will help us meet our mission of working to cure every child with cancer,” said Goldman. “Children’s of Alabama is working to find a cure each and every day.”
Following the presentation, a buffet featuring all Alabama food products was enjoyed by those in attendance.
“From early on, Milo’s Tea has been proud to be a part of the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association,” said Mike Hanson, Director Key Accounts of Milo’s Tea. “The organization emphasizes the importance of teamwork between manufacturers and retailers in the state of Alabama, and Milo’s Tea is proud to stand alongside the organization as they give back to the community through the Buy Alabama’s Best campaign.”
Milo’s Tea Company is a family-owned, certified Woman-Owned Business located in Bessemer, AL. Milo’s was founded as a restaurant in 1946 by Milo and Bea Carlton after Milo returned from serving our country in World War II. Milo’s philosophy was simple – use high quality, fresh, natural ingredients, listen to your customers and never sacrifice taste. In 1989, Milo’s began selling their fresh brewed Famous Sweet Tea to local Birmingham grocery stores and now Milo’s beverages can be found in thousands of retailers across the United States. Milo and Bea’s vision still guides the company today as Milo’s continues to source natural ingredients, fresh brew all of their teas and never use colors, added acids or preservatives. Milo’s Famous Sweet Tea is now the #1 Selling Refrigerated Tea in the US and Milo’s products can be found in more than 13,000 retail locations across 45 states.
The purpose of the Buy Alabama’s Best Campaign is to identify and increase awareness of Alabama food products and increase sales of those products. Alabama food product sales have a $2 billion impact in Alabama’s economy, tax base and along with the food service industries, employ one out of every four Alabamians.
For further information contact Ellie Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.buyalabamasbest.com.
For more photos, please visit our Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/BuyAlabamasBest/
The mission of the Alabama Grocers Association is to promote and support the growth and success of the food industry in the state of Alabama through advocacy, education, public relations and networking.
The Alabama Grocers Association is a state trade association representing the retail food industry since 1990. Since our formation, the AGA has now grown to over 350 member companies and over 90% of grocery retailers in the state of Alabama belong to our organization. The retailers represented in this group vary from large chains to one store independents. We also represent all others involved in the food industry including wholesalers, manufacturers, brokers, distributors and other service providers. The food retail industry in Alabama provides over 70,000 stable, reliable jobs with over $2.2 billion in annual wages paid. Grocers pay over $1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total economic impact on the state’s economy of over $12 billion dollars.
Since 1992, the AGA has been supporting the food industry by awarding over 1.2 million dollars in scholarships through the Alabama Grocers Education Foundation to deserving part-time student employees and children of full-time employees of member AGA companies. We partner with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers each year on the Buy Alabama’s Best program designed to promote products made, manufactured, produced or headquartered in the state. We work with our retail members through Buy Alabama’s Best to raise funds for Children’s of Alabama and to date have raised over three quarters of a million dollars to find a cure for childhood cancer.
The Alabama Grocers Association is honored to be the only retail food focused Association in the state of Alabama. Through the dedication and commitment of our members, we work tirelessly daily on their behalf to enhance their businesses and partnerships.
We are proud to be the voice of the grocery industry in the state of Alabama!
ALABAMA GROCERS ASSOCIATION GIVES ANNUAL YEAR AWARDS AND HOSTS LEGISLATIVE SPEAKERS AT FOOD INDUSTRY FINEST LUNCHEON
BIRMINGHAM, AL—The Alabama Grocers Association held their annual Food Industry Finest Luncheon on Thursday, November 1st honoring their wholesaler and vendor of the year award winners. Speakers included Governor Kay Ivey;
Congressman Gary Palmer, District 6;
Commissioner John McMillan, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries;
Rick Pate, Candidate for Commissioner, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries;
and Thom Singer, Motivational Speaker.
The food retail industry in Alabama provides of 69,000 jobs with over $2.2 billion in annual wages paid. Grocers pay over 1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total economic impact on the state’s economy of over $12 billion dollars.
More than 150 people attended the event at The Club to discuss the work of the Alabama Grocers Association in 2018 and those in the food, beverage and grocery profession here in Alabama.
“Both of these fine individuals hold a special place within the Alabama grocery industry. They are committed to providing outstanding customer service, growth and stability in the Alabama market and serve as examples of excellence in the industry,” said Ellie Taylor, President Alabama Grocers Association. “We are thankful for the opportunity to honor them and their commitment.”
Vendor of the Year
Curtis Lyons was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida to Ruth & Curtis Lyons, Sr. In 1983 he attended Clark College on a football scholarship where he played tailback and ran track, majoring in Education. During summers Curtis worked for Flowers Baking Company as company extra man to make money paying for rent and living expenses.
Halfway through his senior year, with his eyes set on the NFL, God had other plans for Curtis. He tore his knee, ending his football career. Not getting discouraged, Curtis turned to his part time job and in 1985 joined Flowers Baking Company full time running his first bread route. Through the Years Curtis has held positions throughout the company such as District Manager, Sales Manager, Director of Sales and the title he most coveted, Vice President, which he has held since 2005. He contributes achieving his current position through hard work, his leadership abilities and extensive knowledge in the bread and grocery business. Curtis knows you cannot be successful without the team you build around you and is most proud of seeing the District Managers he has been able to help develop and see promoted to Vice Presidents. Mentoring others has always been a passion for Curtis.
Family is a huge part of his life and Curtis feels very blessed with a supportive family. His first wife, Lisa of 22 years gave him 2 amazing children Ashley and Curtis, III and his current wife Deirdre of 6 years has a remarkable son Winston. Some of his favorite time is when the entire family gets together and spends the holiday together as one unit.
Curtis has served on the Alabama Grocers Association Board of Directors for the last 5 years and has served on several AGA Committees. In 2015 Curtis was honored with the Spirit Award at Flowers Foods.
In his spare time Curtis loves sports, running, cycling, golfing and anything that keeps him motivated or spending time with his family and community.
Wholesaler of the Year
Danny Babb began his grocery career at age 17 in Richmond, Kentucky bagging groceries at Thornberry’s SuperValu.
He learned a lot of valuable lessons at Thornberry’s. Be on time, greet and thank the customers and if you work hard and learn to run the cash register you could get a nickel per hour raise! Other lessons learned were that just because you become the shift manager, not everyone will do what you say and not every pretty girl who wants to cash a $100 check can be trusted. With these lessons, Danny took his lessons to Winn-Dixie as he completed his education in Business Administration at Eastern Kentucky University.
Danny moved on to a 10-year career in retail with Winn-Dixie in the Nashville area which was a fantastic launching pad for the rest of his career. Winn-Dixie is also where he met his wife of 30 years, Helen, a former Proctor and Gamble representative. In 1984 Danny had the opportunity to move to the wholesale side of the grocery industry with Malone and Hyde, which was acquired by Fleming and for the last 15 years Associated Wholesale Grocers. During that 34-year time frame he has served as a labor management specialist, retail counselor, customer service supervisor, HBC/GM Group Manager, Director of Training and New Business Development Manager.
Danny has attended Alabama Grocers Association Conventions and events since early in his career and has served on the AGA Board of Directors for nearly two years.
Danny and his wife Helen have two children, Meredith (25) and Neal (23). Meredith lives and works in NYC for Universal McCann advertising agency and Neal, a Mary G Hardin scholarship recipient is a Senior at South Eastern Louisiana University.
“We are honored to have so many amazing people in the grocery industry that care about their customers and the communities they serve. The two individuals we honored today all have a high standard and level of commitment to their companies and the people of Alabama,” said Frank D’Amico, III of BTC Wholesale and Chairman of the Alabama Grocers Association. “I congratulate both of them on receiving the Associations highest honor”.