New study describes California’s successful hybrid remote and in-person WIC programs during the COVID-19 pandemic

Aug 18, 2022

New research shows that participants and directors of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) across California greatly appreciate the hybrid model of remote and in-person services that have been offered during the COVID-19 pandemic, and recommend permanently adopting USDA waivers that allow for these flexibilities. The California WIC program used USDA WIC waivers to provide almost 1 million pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum mothers and their children (up to age five) with nutrition education, nutritious food, and breastfeeding support during the pandemic when needs were heightened. Interviews with California WIC participants and directors showed that WIC clinics successfully transitioned to offering virtual services in addition to in-person walk-in appointments as needed. Participants appreciated the ease of virtual enrollment and remote certification, and directors wanted to continue the remote options in the future. The study was published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It was conducted by researchers Lauren Au and Alana Chaney from the University of California, Davis Department of Nutrition, Shannon E. Whaley, Christopher Anderson, Catherine Martinez from Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC, and Christina Hecht, Marisa Tsai, Nicole Vital, and Lorrene Ritchie from the UC Nutrition Policy Institute. The study was funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

By Cate Seel
By Danielle L. Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist