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Rutgers NJ Medical School Awarded $597K Grant for Innovative WIC Community Outreach Project


By: Richard L. Smith 

The WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) has received a significant boost with a $597,638 grant for the implementation of the WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Project (WIC CIAO).GenceptzFunded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, the project is designed to enhance outreach efforts, increase participation, and improve benefit redemption in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC.

Susan Stephenson-Martin, director of Rutgers NJMS' WIC program, emphasized the importance of this initiative in addressing nutritional needs among women and children in New Jersey.

The project aims to reduce barriers such as transportation and access issues, thereby connecting more people with WIC services.

A key focus of WIC CIAO is to build community collaborations, particularly aiming to increase WIC awareness and enrollment among underserved Portuguese-speaking and immigrant families in Northern Newark.

This approach will help in boosting WIC enrollment at the community level.

Andrea Martinez-Mejia, executive director of the Greater Newark Health Care Coalition, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership with Rutgers NJMS WIC, Programs for Parents, and South Ward Promise Neighborhood.

This collaboration intends to raise awareness and education about WIC and ensure that eligible families can fully utilize WIC's services.GenceptzWIC has demonstrated a wide array of benefits, including healthier, longer pregnancies, reduced premature births and infant deaths, improved dietary outcomes for infants and children, better maternal health, and enhanced school performance. Additionally,

WIC participants have been associated with significant savings in health care costs compared to non-participants.

WIC CIAO is administered through a cooperative agreement with the USDA, the Food Research & Action Center, and partners, including the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, the Native American Agriculture Fund, and Unidos US.

This project is part of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service's broader initiative to modernize WIC, aiming to reach more families and create a positive impact on community health.