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WIC Nutrition Education is Evolving to Address Value Enhanced Nutrition Education (VENA) Guidance

      Objective

      In 2006, the Food and Nutrition Service introduced the Value Enhanced Nutrition Assessment (VENA) guidance to aid with participant-centered nutrition education as part of the WIC program. Because local WIC agencies have flexibility in their approach for delivering nutrition education, understanding how current practices align with VENA was an objective of the 2016 WIC Nutrition Education Study: Phase I Report.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants, Intervention

      We conducted surveys with a nationally representative sample of WIC local agencies and sites (893 local agencies, 1,401 sites) and in-depth telephone interviews with site staff from a subset of survey respondents (80).

      Outcome Measures and Analysis

      Outcome measures included environment, staffing, and resources for WIC nutrition education; types and frequency of educational approaches; and efforts to incorporate participant-centered approaches. We synthesized data from surveys and interviews.

      Results

      Up to 67% of sites provide staff training on VENA and/or participant-centered education techniques with an average of 5-6 hours of training per staff person annually. Sites reporting more training also reported more changes in their nutrition education approach. More than 80% of sites indicated that discussion topics for one-on-one visits are chosen by the participant or by the participant and WIC staff together. Similar numbers reported that individualized goals are almost always or often set by participants or by the participant and educator together.

      Conclusions and Implications

      WIC nutrition education is moving toward a more individualized approach focused on meeting participant needs with a higher level of participant involvement throughout the process which is the primary goal of VENA. Ongoing attention to strengthening nutrition education policy and practice is essential for achieving program goals.

      Funding

      USDA

      Supplementary data