Uniformed Services University Receives $404K for WIC Military Outreach Program

Bethesda, Maryland, May 18 — The Uniformed Services University (USU) has been awarded a $404,703 grant to implement a WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Project (WIC CIAO), designed to increase WIC enrollment in active duty military families.

WIC CIAO is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service and supports 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. In total, there are 36 WIC CIAO awardees made up of WIC state and local agencies, tribal nations, and nonprofit entities and organizations. 

“We are proud to be a part of this critical initiative to identify new ways of connecting people within the military to the WIC program as a means to increase food security for families with young children,” said Dr. Binny Chokshi, associate professor of Pediatrics at USU.

USU was selected through a highly competitive grant process. The USU Pediatrics team will be focused on increasing service member and family engagement with the WIC Program at Fort Campbell, KY.  They plan to leverage healthcare enrollment data to identify families who may be eligible for WIC and then conduct targeted outreach, with the help of community health workers. They also plan to collaborate with the Tennessee and Kentucky WIC offices to develop processes to facilitate enrollment and retention in the WIC Program for service members and their families at Fort Campbell by increasing coordination on health information.  Military members will be directly involved in the project throughout as part of an advisory board to oversee project processes, and with focus groups to understand barriers to WIC enrollment and retention in military families. This project also aims to create a proof of concept that can be used throughout the armed forces to increase WIC enrollment for military families.

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.WIC has been shown to have a positive impact on communities, improving dietary outcomes for infants and children, maternal health, and performance at school, among others. WIC CIAO is administered through a USDA cooperative agreement with the Food Research & Action Center, in partnership with the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, the Native American Agriculture Fund, and UnidosUS. WIC CIAO is part of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service broader initiative to modernize WIC.  


About the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences: The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, founded by an act of Congress in 1972, is the nation’s federal health sciences university and the academic heart of the Military Health System. USU students are primarily active-duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who receive specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, TBI and PTSD, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, global health, and acute trauma care. USU also has graduate programs in oral biology, biomedical sciences and public health committed to excellence in research. The University’s research program covers a wide range of areas important to both the military and public health. For more information about USU and its programs, visit www.usuhs.edu.

withyou android app