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FNS, NIFA Partner to Invest in a Strong and Diverse WIC Workforce

Grant announced today is part of USDA’s broader plan to modernize, strengthen, and expand the reach of WIC to improve health outcomes for moms, babies, and young children

Press Release
Release No.
FNS 014.23
Contact: FNS Press Team

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced it has awarded a cooperative agreement to Regents of the University of Minnesota to support the development of the public health workforce in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC. This cooperative agreement is part of a joint initiative between USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Food and Nutrition Service intended to improve the health of WIC participants by increasing the diversity and cultural competency of the WIC workforce and promoting culturally responsive care.

Funding for this project is provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which is part of the Biden-Harris Investing in America agenda.

“USDA recognizes how important it is for WIC staff to reflect the WIC families they serve and to truly understand the unique needs of the program’s diverse participants,” said Cindy Long, FNS administrator. “We’re working hard to recruit more dietitians and nutritionists from diverse backgrounds to join the ranks of our committed and caring WIC workforce.”

Regents of the University of Minnesota will conduct research, including conducting discussions with key stakeholders, to develop a strategy to strengthen WIC’s front-line workforce. FNS and NIFA will then implement the strategy, leveraging each agency’s respective experience and expertise, including NIFA’s partnerships with Land-grant Universities, to better serve all WIC families.

This effort is part of USDA’s broader plan to modernize, strengthen, and expand the reach of WIC to increase participation; improve health outcomes for moms, babies and young children; and reduce health disparities in infant and maternal health. It also aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments in high-quality jobs and meaningful workforce development efforts that will grow the American economy from the bottom up and middle out.

“NIFA works to equip the current and future nutrition workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to address emerging challenges through our connections to the Land-grant University System,” said NIFA Director Dr. Manjit K. Misra. “We are excited to partner with our FNS colleagues and Regents of the University of Minnesota to both strengthen and diversify the WIC workforce.”

WIC is a powerful public health program administered by FNS. The program provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care and other important services to moms, babies and young children. These benefits are proven to help improve health outcomes and diet quality during critical life stages.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.

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Page updated: November 22, 2023