Two 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.

Dr. Rafael Perez-Escamilla from Yale University and Dr. Lorrene Ritchie from the University of California at Berkeley are the recipients of the 2013 grants. Each is required to have a partnership between a university-based researcher and a state or local WIC program.

Ritchie’s work will focus on studying the impact of online nutrition education for women in the WIC program versus the traditional clinic-based modes of delivering nutrition education. Ritchie and colleagues will conduct a randomized comparison trial among 600 pregnant women in WIC and 600 mothers of 1- to 5-year olds in WIC from three local WIC clinics in California.

Perez-Escamilla’s work will test the effectiveness of a web-based, two-way texting intervention to improve exclusive breastfeeding rates among WIC mothers. The program will provide breastfeeding education through an automated texting schedule and improve communication between WIC mothers and breastfeeding peer counselors before, during and after pregnancy.

“By promoting research partnerships between academic institutions and WIC agencies, we hope to identify cost-neutral, innovative approaches to improve WIC’s nutrition education impact,” 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.