WIC program receives funding to increase participation 09.21.2023

September 21, 2023

WIC program receives funding to increase participation

MOBILE, Ala. — The Mobile County Health Department has been awarded a $432,638 grant to implement a WIC Community Innovation and Outreach (WIC CIAO) Project. This award is supported by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It aims to support efforts to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative outreach strategies to increase awareness, participation, and benefit redemption in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and reduce disparities in program delivery.

“Too many women and children in Alabama are missing out on the nutrition they need in order to thrive,” said Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County. “We are proud to be part of this critical initiative to identify new ways of connecting people to WIC.”

MCHD was selected through a highly competitive grant process. The WIC CIAO project aims to expand partnerships with community organizations and use community-level data to develop and implement innovative WIC outreach efforts. The MCHD project seeks to improve retention of WIC families after infants turn 1-year-old and increase WIC enrollment, prioritizing Black and Latino families in Mobile County.

MCHD will focus on partnerships with health clinics and providers, establishing new relationships and strengthening existing ones through online referral forms and improved outreach materials.

MCHD will work with the University of South Alabama’s Anthropology Department to plan and hold six culturally responsive focus groups to understand barriers to participation, utilization of benefits, and ways to retain more families. Focus groups will be tailored to meet the needs of the priority populations and interviewers, and materials will be available in the primary language of participants.

Lessons learned from the project will inform other long-standing WIC agencies’ efforts to use community data to reimagine promotion and outreach strategies for underserved populations.

In 2020, only 50 percent of all eligible individuals nationwide participated in WIC, equating to a shortfall of almost 6 million individuals. The WIC CIAO Project aims to change that by expanding partnerships with community organizations and using community-level data to develop and implement innovative WIC outreach efforts.

MCHD’s Office of Nutrition Services manages the local WIC program. A monthly average of 10,546 participants received WIC food instruments during the Fiscal Year 2022. To qualify for WIC, a person must meet income guidelines, be a resident of Alabama, and have been seen by a health professional at the WIC clinic. For more information, visit https://mchd.org/wic or call 251-690-8829.

Additional information on WIC is available from the MCHD mobile app. You can find the referral form link under the “More tab” or visit the following link to download the app – https://apps.myocv.com/share/a65536603.