Skip to main content

Bloomberg School Faculty Lead New Project to Improve WIC Enrollment

The project, funded by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, will utilize data sharing and community outreach to improve enrollment processes and food accessibility to promote health and wellbeing.

Faculty from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health were awarded a nearly $10 million cooperative agreement from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to help improve the enrollment process of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The new project, called Matching, Outreach, Referrals for Enrollment in WIC (MORE WIC!), aims to increase WIC participation of eligible families currently enrolled in other federal programs, with the overall goal of improving health outcomes. Laura Caulfield, PhD, a professor of nutrition in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School will serve as the principal investigator of the project. Susan Gross, PhD, RDN, an associate scientist in the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, and Elizabeth Kushman, MPH, a senior research associate with the Center for Indigenous Health are co-investigators on the project.

Over a five-year period, Bloomberg faculty will work in collaboration with Benefits Data Trust and the National WIC Association to facilitate the work of WIC state agencies to implement a streamlined enrollment process through a data sharing and matching program that uses information from other federal assistance programs to identify WIC-eligible families enrolled in programs such as Medicaid and SNAP, but not currently enrolled in WIC.

The project is expected to improve enrollment numbers of individuals, especially those from underrepresented communities, while also helping alleviate current administrative burdens on individuals seeking assistance and corresponding agencies. Along with utilizing data matching, the project will also engage in community outreach to connect eligible families with services, and in turn, improve the enrollment of WIC programs.

While working with WIC state agencies the Bloomberg-led project has three main objectives:

  • Help make funding available to multiple WIC state agencies to implement data matching and outreach efforts in communities,
  • Provide technical assistance to WIC state agencies to help improve the identification and enrollment process of eligible families, and
  • Develop an implementation and evaluation framework to assess the project's progress, prioritizing changes in WIC enrollment rates among people enrolled in Medicaid and SNAP before WIC.

“I’m excited to start working with our collaborators on increasing equitable access to WIC services that will help improve maternal and child health and nutrition across the country,” says Caulfield. The project aligns with FNS’s key goals to improve access and affordability of food, improve health outcomes of mothers and children, and make government services more accessible for everyone through simplifying enrollment processes.

For more information regarding the project, please read the FNS press release here.

To learn more about the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, visit the FNS website.