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USDA Funds Projects Connecting Families to WIC Program
USAgNet - 05/19/2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through a cooperative agreement with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), has awarded $16 million in subgrants funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to 36 projects aimed at testing innovative outreach strategies to increase participation and equity in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children known as WIC. The WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Project, or WIC CIAO, subgrantees include WIC state and local agencies and community-based organizations, including four subgrants led by tribal nations or entities.

"The Biden-Harris Administration is making a difference in the lives of pregnant women, moms, babies and young children by providing proven health interventions through the WIC program," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We're pleased to work with such a strong and diverse group of subgrant partners across the nation to ensure everyone eligible for WIC can tap into its incredible benefits."

WIC is one of the most powerful, evidence-based public health programs available, with a long history of improving health and developmental outcomes for children. Yet, only 50 percent of all eligible individuals participate in WIC, a shortfall of almost 6 million moms, babies, and young children missing out on key benefits.

"While our efforts to increase participation among eligible groups appear to be taking hold, we have more work to do," said Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.

The WIC CIAO project aims to expand partnerships with community organizations and use community-level data to develop and implement innovative WIC outreach efforts. For example, projects include co-locating WIC staff at medical offices and partnering with Head Start in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma; developing culturally and linguistically appropriate materials for outreach to communities with large numbers of Middle Eastern and North African residents in Michigan; and increasing retention of Black and Latino families after infants turn one by addressing language, culture, and environmental barriers in Mobile County, Ala.

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