The “Wiring WIC” Initiative
New America’s Wiring WIC Initiative Develops Innovative Solutions to Strengthen the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
Nearly 50% of all infants and 25% of toddlers in America enrolled in the program.
On Sept. 5-6, 2017, experts gathered at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to develop innovative solutions to strengthen the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a vital Federal food assistance program. The 50% Conference, a collaboration between New America, the MIT Media Lab, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, provided an opportunity for attendees including technology experts, public health professionals and futurists to explore how emerging technology can modernize and improve the experience and health outcomes for participants in the WIC program. A $4.9 billion initiative, WIC supports critical nutritional needs for 6.2 million mothers and their children. It serves nearly fifty percent of all infants born in the United States, the statistic from which the conference draws its name.
The Summit addressed issues and proposed solutions that could boost enrollment, promote retention in the program, deliver interactive nutrition education and child development tips as well as provide links to other Federal, state, and community services for low income Americans. Experts from the global design firm IDEO facilitated the event as experts discussed potential apps, social media approaches, text messaging, interactive technology and in-person programs to better serve WIC beneficiaries in the Digital Age.
New America convened the “Wiring WIC” National Virtual Symposium on May 23, 2022 in partnership with the Nutrition Department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to discuss the present its recommendations to modernize WIC with technology. A conference with speakers including bipartisan Members of Congress, USDA officials, and project collaborators at New America, the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health, and the MIT Media Lab convened virtually to discuss the findings. Speakers represented a range of multidisciplinary experts from government, technology, public health, nutrition, design, and public policy.
At the Initiative’s conclusion, we issued a final report and executive summary entitled “Wiring WIC: Technology Innovations to Strengthen the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)” which synthesized the findings of the original conference in 2017 for modernizing the program with technology as well as the progress that has been made since that time including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in accelerating implementation of many of our project recommendations.