Healthy Food from Birth to 5
In 2022, the Minnesota Department of Health WIC Division began leading a Midwest State Initiative to support online WIC food purchases.
Together with Iowa and Nebraska WIC Programs, Minnesota designed an equitable shopping experience for participants by implementing online ordering at Hy-Vee grocery stores, the retail partner in each state.
This pilot program was funded by USDA and created an online ordering and payment processing solution. Designed to overcome transportation issues, time constraint barriers, and reduce stigma associated with using WIC benefits, this effort will meet the modern needs of WIC participants.
Only 58 percent of WIC meals are provided to eligible children
WIC safeguards the health of pregnant women, infants and children up to age 5 through nutrition education and grocery vouchers funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Minnesota, is administered by the Minnesota Department of Health’s WIC.
More than 180,000 infants and children eligible for WIC in Minnesota. Yet, less than 60 percent are enrolled in WIC, ranking Minnesota with the third highest in the country.
WIC has seen a decrease in participation around the country, and Minnesota is no exception. The drop-off tends to start when infants reach 9 months of age. That has resulted in thousands of eligible children not being served and $24.5 million in federal reimbursements not claimed by Minnesota communities.
WIC parents cite transportation, logistical hurdles, stigma and complex transactions at grocery check-outs as key reasons for not using the program.
We are developing multi-prong strategies to improve WIC participation and enrollment, including easing access, retention incentives, advocacy/data support for state funding and “WIC to 6” legislation, and direct certification avenues.
Working with partners, we:
- Strive to retain eligible, enrolled kids.
- Coordinate and develop ways to improve enrollment and retention of WIC participants.
- Leverage physicians and nurse practitioners to promote the benefits of WIC to eligible patients.
- Reach out to WIC participants through licensed child care centers and after-school programs.
- Re-position WIC as adding value to early childhood development.
Provide 1.4 million more meals by increasing WIC’s enrollment and retention of infants and children.
Opportunity for Minnesota to lead in early child nutrition
With the WIC transion to electronic benefit transfers completed, the next opportunity to improve the participant experience will be the opportunity to shop for foods, online (PDF) Dec. 10, 2020
Spotlight: WIC Retention Pilot
Meeting the challenge to prevent a drop in WIC participation after nine months.
Editorial: Maintain Minnesota’s investment in its youngest learners
State’s $50-million-plus commitment for prekindergarten is just a start. (April 16, 2018)
Children’s HealthWatch WIC brief
A non-partisan group of experts on ensuring a healthy start for all children. (April, 2015)