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Revitalizing Quality Nutrition Services in WIC

What is RQNS?

RQNS is an evolving process of continuous program improvement involving partners at the federal, state and local levels.

What is the Goal of RQNS?

To enhance and strengthen the effectiveness of WIC nutrition services so that WIC will continue to be the premiere national public health nutrition program, helping participants to achieve and maintain optimal nutritional status.

What is the Rationale for RQNS?

  • WIC participants’ nutrition knowledge base and needs have changed over time.
  • Enable WIC nutrition services to better meet the public health challenges of today.
  • WIC nutrition services should be made available to participants in appealing and accommodating ways that are relevant and responsive to their individual needs.
  • High quality WIC nutrition services may entice each adult participant and parent/caregiver of infant or child participant to receive at least two nutrition education contacts during the certification period.
  • All WIC local agency staff should have the appropriate education and/or training to prepare them to serve as part of the nutrition services team.
  • Because nutrition is everybody’s business in WIC!

What prompted the RQNS process?

RQNS emerged as a result of the findings of two studies – WIC Nutrition Education Assessment Study and the WIC Infant Feeding Practices Study. Both of these studies indicated that WIC needed to:

  • Strengthen nutrition education;
  • Adopt a more behavioral approach in nutrition education;
  • Be more client oriented, and
  • Focus on healthy behaviors for life.

In response to these findings, FNS commissioned a discussion paper, Reinventing Quality Nutrition Education in WIC, which presented some creative concepts on how WIC nutrition education could be redesigned to make it more effective and more appealing to participants.

The discussion paper was distributed to FNS regional offices, state WIC agencies and public health nutritionists for comment. The final document was used to elicit open dialog with the regional offices and state and local WIC agencies in order to cultivate a climate for change in WIC nutrition services.

RQNS is an ongoing process of continual program improvement and since its inception in 1999, FNS has made significant progress toward improving nutrition services in WIC.

RQNS projects and initiatives include:

  • WIC Works Resource System is an online education and training center for health and nutrition professionals serving in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
  • The Nutrition Services Standards are designed to help state and local WIC agencies self-assess how well they currently deliver a wide range of nutrition services and how to improve the delivery and quality of nutrition services.
  • WIC Special Project Grants are awarded to help states develop, implement and evaluate new or innovative methods of service delivery to meet the changing needs of WIC participants.
  • VENA (Value Enhanced Nutrition Assessment) was developed jointly by FNS and the National WIC Association. The VENA guidance provides a process for completing a comprehensive WIC nutrition assessment and an outline of the necessary staff competencies.
Page updated: January 03, 2024