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USDA Awards $2 Million in Grants to Support WIC Participation through Age 5

Press Release
Release No.
FNS 0015.16
Contact: FNS Press Team

WASHINGTON, DC, September 19, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service today awards nearly $2 million in funding to six states and territories to help improve retention of children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. These funds will enable WIC state agencies to better fulfill their crucial role in ensuring young children up to age five have a foundation for nutritional success.

“WIC has proven to be effective at building a stronger, healthier America by providing nutrition assistance to mothers and their young children and promoting healthy eating choices,” said USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. “Despite that, we are seeing a decline in WIC participation among children over the age of one, meaning the potential benefits the program offers are not being fully leveraged. These grants will help maximize the impact of the WIC program by supporting states’ efforts to retain participants through the toddler and preschooler years.”

The funds are competitively awarded through the annual WIC Special Project Grants. This year’s grants are intended to help WIC State agencies develop, implement, and evaluate new or innovative methods of service delivery to meet the changing needs of WIC participants from birth to age 5. Based on 2012 National and state level estimates, only just over half of all eligible children ages 1-4 participate in WIC, as compared to 85 percent of eligible infants. As young children are vulnerable to a wide of variety of nutrition-related problems that can impair their development and growth, continued participation beyond age one is both recommended and vital.

Two types of grants were awarded: full grants and mini-grants.

Full grants are up to $500,000, have a 3-year duration period and require an evaluation component that usually includes a partnership with a university or research entity. The 2016 full grants are awarded to:

  • Georgia - $430,124 for development of a partnership with Head Start and Early Head Start within three targeted Health Districts--Columbus, Gainesville and Macon,
  • Mississippi - $407,009 for development of a partnership with Head Start facilities throughout the state,
  • Pennsylvania - $500,000 for a multi-tiered intervention focusing on staff training and messaging to increase retention, and
  • Virginia - $460,350 for a mobile WIC clinic to improve access to services in areas of high need.

Mini grants are up to $100,000, have an 18-month duration period and a less robust evaluation component. The 2016 mini-grants are awarded to:

  • South Carolina – $100,000 to purchase a mobile WIC clinic to service five Promise Zone counties (Allendale, Bamberg, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper) and
  • Puerto Rico – $100,000 to test the use of technology to combine access to participant-centered nutrition education and the optional mailing of WIC vouchers to participants, which are used to obtain supplemental foods.

The results developed from the Special Project Grants are made available to all WIC state agencies in order to share promising practices that could strengthen nutrition services delivery and increase child retention.

For more than 40 years, WIC has provided nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to other health and social services. The program serves low income pregnant women, breastfeeding and postpartum mothers, infants, and young children up to the age of five who are found to be nutritionally at risk. More information about the WIC program can be found at the Women, Infants and Children website.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, these programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program, and others, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net.

Page updated: February 09, 2023