A new study conducted by Heluna Health’s PHFE WIC research and evaluation team and colleagues at UC Davis and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Nutrition Policy Institute suggests that a hybrid service model, which includes remote and in-person services, makes it easier for families to participate in the WIC program.
In March 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted federal waivers to states through the US Families First Coronavirus Response Act, providing WIC agencies with various remote service options. Service changes extended certification periods for children, allowed for remote certification, recertification, and food benefit issuance, and approved alternative WIC food package items. Additionally, WIC staff were able to provide virtual nutrition education and breastfeeding support.
Many participants expressed their satisfaction with remote services and said that remote enrollment was easier than in-person enrollment.
I actually found it (WIC appointments) much…easier (than in the past) because I didn’t have to go into the office…especially if you can’t find a babysitter. So I found it more convenient for me, because I have such a busy schedule because of school. It works perfectly for me.–WIC Participant
Several WIC agency directors agreed that all waivers and changes should continue after the pandemic.
Research findings show that a hybrid service model will draw and retain more families, and allowing for on-site and remote services proves as an efficient alternative for WIC participants and employees.
This research study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Access the research article via Science Direct here: California WIC Participants’ and Local Agency Directors’ Experiences during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic: A Qualitative Examination – ScienceDirect