National WIC Association

Ongoing USDA-FNS WIC Studies

Project Name
Contractor, and Expected Report(s) Publication
Project Description
WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices
Contractor: Westat
Expected Report Publication: A series of reports being released on a yearly basis from 2015-2020. The first report, the Prenatal report, was released in 2015. The Infant report was released in 2017. The Toddler report is anticipated in early 2018. Subsequent reports expected annually with the Year 5 Report anticipated to be released in 2020.
This study will provide updated information on the feeding patterns of WIC infants, with expanded information on infant and toddler feeding behaviors. To address relative effectiveness in achieving appropriate feeding patterns and behaviors, the study will measure the different approaches to nutrition education and breastfeeding promotion and support services provided by WIC and other sources. The study will identify aspects of WIC nutrition education that could influence feeding practices to address the problem of high body weight among young children in WIC. The contract funds the design, sampling, and data collection through 5 years of age.
WIC Participant and Program Characteristics
Contractor: Insight Policy Research
2014 Report Publication: November 2015
2016 Report Expected: Early 2018
This biennial Census provides detailed information on the demographic characteristics, economic circumstances and health conditions of WIC clients, along with information on the operational characteristics of state and local WIC agencies. The data are used for policy development, budget projections, and regulatory impact analyses. Information about WIC participant characteristics has been prepared biennially since 1992 from administrative records provided by state agencies.
National and State-level Estimates of WIC Eligibles and WIC Program Reach
Contractor: Urban Institute
2014 Report Published: September 2017
2015 Report Expected: February 2018
2016 Report Expected: January 2019
FNS publishes annual estimates of the number of people eligible for WIC and the rates of participation for the U.S., for each of the 7 FNS regions, and for each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The analyses include rates by subgroups (pregnant women, postpartum women, infants, and children) and by region, state, and race and ethnicity.
The WIC Nutrition Education Study
Contractor: Research Triangle Institute/Altarum
Phase I Report Published: Spring 2016
Expected Final Report Publication: Spring 2018
The WIC Nutrition Education Study provides a nationally representative description of WIC nutrition education (Phase l) and a pilot study to examine the feasibility of evaluating the impact of WIC nutrition education on behavioral and physical activity outcomes in six sites (Phase ll). This two-phase study includes multiple modes of data collection from state agencies, local agencies, nutrition educators, and WIC participants. The multi-method approach includes the use of web surveys, paper-based surveys, telephone interviews, in-person focus groups and interviews, observations, and administrative data reviews to test the feasibility of this approach for fully capturing WIC nutrition education dosage, duration, and frequency of use by geographic distribution and local agency characteristics. The Phase I: Interim Report has been published and the Phase II: Final Report is currently under review.
Assessment of WIC Vendor Management Practices – EBT Study
Contractor: Altarum
Expected Report Publication: 2018
The electronic benefits transfer (EBT) study is designed to augment findings from the 2013 WIC Vendor Management Study, which satisfies Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010 (IPERA) requirements. The EBT sub-study provides a unique opportunity to closely examine compliance among vendors in states with an EBT system. The findings will help inform the design of the next national Vendor Management study, at which time all states will have moved to EBT.
WIC Medicaid Study II
Contractor: Mathematica
Expected Report Publication: 2018
The first WIC Medicaid Study, published in 1991, found that every dollar spent on WIC services to low-income pregnant women saved $1.77 to $3.13 in Medicaid cost during the first 60 days following delivery. WIC Medicaid Study II assessed the feasibility of repeating and expanding upon the previous study within current policy and participation environments. Utilizing data from two States, the study examined the associations between WIC participation and pregnancy, birth, and other health outcomes as well as child health care utilization and Medicaid costs.
National Survey of WIC Participants-III
Contractor: CCC/Abt/2M
Expected Report Publication: 2020
Approximately every ten years, FNS conducts a nationally representative survey of the characteristics of WIC participants and state and local agencies. The National Survey of WIC Participants (NSWP) series provides USDA with national estimates of certification-related errors and improper payments for use in USDA’s required reporting under the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010 (IPERA). The NSWP series also: Collects information on state and local WIC agencies’ certification-related policies and operations in order to better understand both the policies and their potential associations with error; provides statistical sample-based estimates of the size and characteristics of local WIC agencies nationwide; and provides information from a nationally representative sample of WIC participants about their experiences with WIC. The last study collected data in 2009 and was published in 2012. The next study in the series was awarded in September 2015. Data collection is anticipated to begin in 2018.
WIC Food Package Costs and Cost Containment
Contractor: Insight Policy Research
Expected Report Publication: 2020
Designed as an update to ERS’ 2003 Assessment of WIC Cost Containment Practices, this study will provide a national picture of the major WIC food cost containment practices and assess which practices effectively constrain food costs with few or no adverse effects on participant satisfaction, retention, and consumption of WIC foods. In addition to collecting state agency administrative data and feedback about WIC food cost containment practices, the study will survey WIC participants in 12 EBT states and former WIC participants in three EBT states.
WIC Data Integration Strategy: WIC EBT Issuance and Redemption Transaction Database
Expected Report Publication: 2018
This effort will describe the user needs, technical requirements, and potential barriers to and costs of establishing a nationwide WIC EBT issuance and transaction database. This database would centralize EBT transaction data, link transaction data to participant and vendor data, and generate public and restricted use data sets and analytical reports. This effort will collect feedback from key stakeholders to determine the usefulness of current WIC EBT data systems and identify potential unmet needs that a national system would address before technical and related requirements are developed.
Unified WIC Data Collection Strategy
Contractor: TBD
Expected Report Publication: TBD
FNS uses existing WIC administrative data to conduct studies and generate reports, including the biennial WIC Participant Characteristics (PC) reports. This project is to review existing WIC administrative data collections and identify approaches to integrate, streamline, and enhance them. Stakeholders will be engaged throughout the project to inform a strategy that meets program and policy needs without increasing burden on program staff. The effort will build on lessons learned and data generated through other activities including WIC PC, WIC Electronic Benefit Transfer Issuance and Redemption Transaction (eBIRT), and the National UPC Database. The effort will also examine the feasibility of linking WIC administrative data to: Information on WIC program activities and policies; WIC technology platforms used to deliver services; and information on the local environments of WIC participants, including access to WIC approved vendors. These linkages would enhance data reporting and improve the ability of FNS to examine factors that contribute to WIC program enrollment and retention.
USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research
Grantee: Duke University / University of North Carolina
Expected WIC Grant Completion Date: Early 2018
In October 2014, ERS and FNS awarded a 3-year, $1.9 M grant to Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) to establish the USDA Behavioral Economics Center for Healthy Food Choice Research (BECR). BECR conducts behavioral economics research to benefit the nutrition, food security, and health of all Americans, with special emphasis on facilitating food choice behaviors that would improve the diets of SNAP and WIC participants. As part of this grant, BECR most recently funded three WIC sub-grants that draw on behavioral economics theory to develop and test strategies for improving food choice behaviors in the WIC shopping context. To learn more about these grants, visit here.
2016 WIC Special Project Grants
Full Grantees: Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
Mini Grantees: Puerto Rico and South Carolina
Expected Report Dates: Summer 2018 (mini grants); Spring 2020 (full grants)
In December 2016, FNS awarded its latest round of funding for the WIC Special Project Grants to help WIC State Agencies develop, implement, and evaluate innovative methods of service to meet the changing needs of WIC participants. The focus of the 2016 grants is retention of children currently participating in WIC. Four full grants were awarded to Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Two mini grants were awarded to Colorado, Delaware, and Vermont. Grantees will implement an innovative intervention, evaluate its results, and then submit a report to FNS detailing their findings. A new series of WIC Special Project Grants, focused on optimizing service delivery, will be awarded in 2018.