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USDA investing $20 million to improve local WIC program outreach and enrollment efforts

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    USDA investing $20 million to improve local WIC program outreach and enrollment efforts

    On October 19, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) announced that it has been awarded a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help increase the number of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Through the WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Cooperative Agreement (CIAO) Program, FRAC and its partners will support community-based organizations, WIC state and local agencies and other nonprofits in developing and implementing innovative outreach strategies to increase WIC participation and retention, with a focus on underserved populations. State agencies administer WIC through 1,900 local agencies in 10,000 clinic sites and nearly 50 percent of local agencies function as part of local government, including counties.

    WIC is one of the largest federal nutrition programs, providing healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding counseling and support and healthcare and social service referrals to more than 6 million women and young children, including nearly half of all infants born in the United States. Research shows that participation in WIC is tied to several health benefits, including healthier pregnancies, increased access to health care services, reduced food insecurity and improved overall child development and well-being. However, less than 60 percent of eligible individuals and less than 50 percent of eligible children participate in WIC, with coverage rates among children declining as they get older. 

    A recent USDA report on the state of food insecurity detailed how COVID relief legislation significantly increased WIC program functionality and access, contributing to a rise in participation. It is estimated that local economies benefited by $7 billion as a result of pandemic WIC flexibilities. Yet, these enhanced benefits are set to expire at the end of the year when the Public Health Emergency declaration is slated to end.

    CIAO will use community-level data to test new ways of delivering WIC messaging and conducting outreach. The grant will also expand partnerships with community-based organizations to connect underserved populations with WIC. The program will work with its program partners to provide technical assistance and funding in two rounds to a minimum of 25 projects to conduct innovative WIC outreach, apply an implementation science and evaluation framework to identify effective strategies implemented within projects and use these learnings to inform a summary report and multiple national resources, including an outreach framework for WIC operators and partners.

    Learn more about the WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Program here.  

    The CIAO grants are accompanied by funding that has gone directly to state agencies to modernize technology and improve the WIC shopping experience.

    Read the full FRAC announcement here.

    Counties support these investments to increase access to WIC amongst the eligible mothers and young children living in our communities and improve the continuum of services needed to ensure healthy physical and mental development for children. NACo will continue to monitor how counties can engage with local partners to apply for and leverage these funds and urges Congress to pass legislation that permanently enhances federal nutrition benefits.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    • FNS Report: Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service
    • NACo Blog: White House releases National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health
    • NACo Blog: USDA releases annual food security report highlighting ongoing importance of federal nutrition programs
    • NACo Blog: FNS releases SNAP administrative waivers ahead of COVID-19 public health emergency expiration
    • NACo Blog: USDA awards grants to improve reach and resiliency of emergency food system
    • NACo Report: The County Human Services and Education Landscape
    On October 19, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) announced that it has been awarded a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help increase the number of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
    2022-10-24
    Blog
    2022-10-24
USDA announces $20 million in competitive grants to support local WIC outreach and enrollment efforts New USDA funding will support local WIC agencies, community organizations and other partners in connecting underserved populations to key nutrition supports

On October 19, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) announced that it has been awarded a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help increase the number of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Through the WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Cooperative Agreement (CIAO) Program, FRAC and its partners will support community-based organizations, WIC state and local agencies and other nonprofits in developing and implementing innovative outreach strategies to increase WIC participation and retention, with a focus on underserved populations. State agencies administer WIC through 1,900 local agencies in 10,000 clinic sites and nearly 50 percent of local agencies function as part of local government, including counties.

WIC is one of the largest federal nutrition programs, providing healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding counseling and support and healthcare and social service referrals to more than 6 million women and young children, including nearly half of all infants born in the United States. Research shows that participation in WIC is tied to several health benefits, including healthier pregnancies, increased access to health care services, reduced food insecurity and improved overall child development and well-being. However, less than 60 percent of eligible individuals and less than 50 percent of eligible children participate in WIC, with coverage rates among children declining as they get older. 

A recent USDA report on the state of food insecurity detailed how COVID relief legislation significantly increased WIC program functionality and access, contributing to a rise in participation. It is estimated that local economies benefited by $7 billion as a result of pandemic WIC flexibilities. Yet, these enhanced benefits are set to expire at the end of the year when the Public Health Emergency declaration is slated to end.

CIAO will use community-level data to test new ways of delivering WIC messaging and conducting outreach. The grant will also expand partnerships with community-based organizations to connect underserved populations with WIC. The program will work with its program partners to provide technical assistance and funding in two rounds to a minimum of 25 projects to conduct innovative WIC outreach, apply an implementation science and evaluation framework to identify effective strategies implemented within projects and use these learnings to inform a summary report and multiple national resources, including an outreach framework for WIC operators and partners.

Learn more about the WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Program here.  

The CIAO grants are accompanied by funding that has gone directly to state agencies to modernize technology and improve the WIC shopping experience.

Read the full FRAC announcement here.

Counties support these investments to increase access to WIC amongst the eligible mothers and young children living in our communities and improve the continuum of services needed to ensure healthy physical and mental development for children. NACo will continue to monitor how counties can engage with local partners to apply for and leverage these funds and urges Congress to pass legislation that permanently enhances federal nutrition benefits.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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    <h3><strong>Counties Matter in Human Services</strong></h3>

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    Human Services & Education Steering Committee

    All matters pertaining to children’s issues, foster care,  public assistance and income support, services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, immigration policy, social services, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. Policy Platform & Resolutions 2022-2023 2022 NACo Legislative Priorities
    page

    <p>All matters pertaining to children&rsquo;s issues, foster care,&nbsp; public assistance and income support, services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, immigration policy, social services, and elementary,

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