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Grants support projects with creative approaches for WIC program nutrition education

Two new projects have been selected to receive grants from the USDA Center for Collaborative Research on WIC Nutrition Education Innovations at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

The projects demonstrate creative approaches to nutrition education for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and will each be funded for $250,000 for up to two years.

“These are important research partnerships between academic institutions and WIC agencies. We hope to identify cost-neutral, innovative approaches to improve the impact of WIC nutrition education,” said Dr. Karen Cullen, professor of pediatrics at Baylor and center director of the USDA Center for Collaborative Research on WIC Nutrition Education Innovations at the CNRC.

Dr. Jennifer Di Noia from William Paterson University and Dr. M. Jane Heinig from UC Davis are the recipients of the grants. Each is required to have a partnership between a university-based researcher and a state or local WIC program.

Di Noia’s project will focus on developing and testing a web-based nutrition education lesson to promote fruit and vegetable consumption among women enrolled in WIC. Designed to leverage an existing resource – vouchers provided to WIC participants for fresh fruit and vegetable purchases through the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program – the lesson is conceptually grounded in formative research on knowledge, attitudes and skills influencing farmers’ market fruit and vegetable purchases and consumption and theoretical understanding of approaches for modifying them.

Heinig’s work will focus on supporting baby behavior education for WIC participants through pediatric offices. This project will test low-cost video training and tools targeted to medical staff in pediatric clinics serving low-income families. Age-specific messages and materials will be developed to help providers effectively address parents’ most common questions related to infant feeding and behavior during each regularly scheduled well-baby check. Online surveys of providers, medical staff and participants will be used to assess knowledge transfer, acceptance and feasibility of message delivery as well to evaluate the added value of provider education versus WIC-only baby behavior messages for participants.