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WICnic

Team members: Row 1 (l-r) Ron Malone, Chi Blair, Catherine Heigel, Sheryl Wilkerson
Row 2 (l-r) Cal Hurst, DJ Harris, Chris Schoen
(not pictured: Carol Moddy)

The WICnic Group seeks to improve health and life success prospects for economically disadvantaged children in South Carolina by providing families with greater access to nutrition counseling and healthy food options. We opted to leverage an existing USDA program – Women, Infants & Children (WIC) – that is administered in South Carolina by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) (www.scdhec.gov/wic). Research has shown that WIC plays an important role in improving birth outcomes, containing health care costs and improving children’s diets, among a long list of benefits. But barriers, such as transportation, prevent many who need the service from receiving it.

In an effort to find a sustainable solution to the transportation barrier to participation by eligible families, we developed a pilot project (Mobile WIC) to take WIC services to a high-eligibility community in Greenville. After conducting a focus group discussion in the Nicholtown community on April 28, 2016, we selected that community and surrounding area to hold on-site WIC clinics once a week for six weeks to determine if taking the services to eligible families on a regular, sustained basis would increase participation in this valuable nutrition program. The pilot began on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at the Phillis Wheatley Community Center from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and continued through Tuesday, June 28, 2016. DHEC defined success for the pilot as being a 2.5% increase in the eligible participation. If participation increased by more than 2.5% (or 25 participants) in the Nicholtown community as a result of the pilot, DHEC would evaluate using available USDA funds to purchase a mobile WIC van to implement a permanent mobile WIC program in the Upstate. On June 29, 2016, DHEC declared the pilot to be a success and reported that 35 new participants were enrolled in WIC as a result of the Mobile WIC initiative.