WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2018– The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) today announced $1.1 million in grants to four Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) state agencies in Arizona, Arkansas, South Dakota and Texas. These competitively awarded grants will help WIC state agencies develop, implement, and evaluate innovative ways to improve benefit delivery and customer service to WIC participants.
“WIC provides vital services to millions of low-income, nutritionally at-risk mothers, infants, and young children each year,” said Brandon Lipps, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “With these grants, our state partners will be able to develop, implement and test innovative ways to improve WIC service delivery and customer experience, helping ensure the program runs as effectively and efficiently as possible.”
State agencies selected to receive awards are:
- Arizona WIC--$499,697: testing online group nutrition education.
- Arkansas WIC--$74,518: combining breastfeeding support into a health community coordinator program in a rural area of the state.
- South Dakota--$57,890: offering cooking classes to WIC participants at a local college.
- Texas WIC--$496,644: creating an online 24/7 communicator (called a ChatBot) to help applicants best determine eligibility and schedule their appointments.
The WIC Special Project Grants are part of the USDA’s ongoing efforts to continuously strengthen its nutrition assistance program by leveraging the creativity and insights of state and local program professionals. Investing in forward-looking strategies ensures that WIC fulfills its mission to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk.
The focus area of the 2017/2018 WIC Special Project Grants is “Optimizing WIC Service Delivery.” Grantees will test strategies to improve the delivery of WIC services and improve customer experience in the program. Once evaluated, the methods and best practices could be implemented by other state agencies.
In previous years, Special Project Grants have focused on other critical areas, such as improving the nutrition assessments used to target benefits and services to the needs of each participant, developing strategies to support and promote healthy weight, strengthening safeguards to prevent fraud and promote integrity, and harnessing technology to improve nutrition services. These grants help promote mission-focused innovation in WIC.
More information about the WIC program can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/WIC.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to WIC, these programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.
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