FNS, NIFA Partner to Improve WIC Participant Outcomes by Investing in a Strong and Diverse WIC Workforce
Washington, Feb. 16, 2023 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced an investment of $750,000 to support the development of the public health workforce within the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as WIC. This project is part of a joint agency initiative between USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture and the Food and Nutrition Service, which is expected to cultivate comprehensive and sustained solutions to increase cultural competency and culturally responsive care in WIC, in turn increasing participation in WIC and improving the health of participants.
“State and local WIC professionals care deeply about the work they’re doing and the participants they serve,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh. “By strengthening diversity and cultural competency among the people who dedicate their lives to serving our WIC families, we’re taking the WIC workforce to the next level.”
USDA is seeking applications to develop a multifaceted five-year national WIC workforce strategy that will recruit and train WIC employees to best serve WIC families. This is part of a larger initiative to modernize, strengthen and expand the reach of WIC, aiming to increase participation and improve health outcomes of moms, babies and young children.
“Through new recruitment and training opportunities, we hope to strengthen pipelines into the WIC workforce ensuring that the next generation of WIC professionals is even stronger. Our goal is to be able to provide the best possible service to everyone WIC serves and more diversity in our workforce will help us to reach that goal,” said Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services.
WIC is a powerful public health program administered by FNS, proven to help moms, babies and young children thrive. The program provides nutritious foods, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care and other important services, which are shown to help improve health outcomes and diet quality during critical life stages.
USDA seeks an entity to develop a 5-year National WIC Workforce Development Strategy that will be implemented by FNS and NIFA as a joint agency WIC Workforce Initiative. The joint agency initiative leverages the experience and expertise of FNS and NIFA, including NIFA’s partnerships with land-grant universities and colleges, to strengthen the diversity and cultural competency of the WIC workforce to better serve all WIC families.
“This is an exciting opportunity for NIFA to showcase the power of the Land-grant University System to train and prepare students to enter this critical workforce to impact lives and serve the nation,” said Dr. Dionne Toombs, acting director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “Our Land-grant partners across the nation reach deep into every community, especially hard-to-reach communities, to deliver vital education that improves nutrition and enhances youth development that will lead us to a healthier population.”
Funding for this project is provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 as part of a larger initiative to modernize WIC. To learn more, view the entire Request for Applications, and apply, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/national-workforce-strategy-development. The request for applications is open through April 17, 2023.
The Biden-Harris Administration is investing in high-quality jobs and meaningful workforce development efforts that will strengthen and expand the middle class from the bottom up and the middle out. USDA is also investing in workers and families – within the department and externally. For example, USDA is:
- Participating in the Census Bureau’s Opportunity Project with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce to roll out digital tools to help job seekers find, train for and succeed within high-growth industries. These efforts focus on individuals experiencing homelessness, recent immigrants, families with housing choice vouchers, underemployed individuals, and those who receive TANF or Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program.
- Launching the Rural Workforce Innovation Network, an impressive network of governmental entities, higher education, nonprofits and businesses actively working to improve local workforce development.
- Taking a critical look at our role in helping more Americans find rewarding jobs and careers to support their families, including the SNAP Employment and Training program. SNAP E&T helps connect SNAP participants who can work with the skills, training and work experience needed to obtain and maintain regular employment.
- FNS is planning to host SNAP E&T State Institute through the SNAP to Skills Project in 2023. This State Institute will offer a select group of states the opportunity to carefully review their E&T program from top to bottom, using program and outcome data to determine what’s working well and where there may be gaps. SNAP state agencies will work collaboratively with other agencies and key E&T partners in their state to develop actionable steps they can take back home to get their state’s E&T program from where it is, to where they want it to be.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.