Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s WIC Program and Greater Newark Health Coalition Announce the Launch of a Grant to Expand Outreach Efforts to Families

The WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) was awarded a $597,638 grant to implement a WIC Community Innovation and Outreach Project (WIC CIAO). Supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, WIC CIAO aims to support efforts to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative outreach strategies to increase awareness, participation, and benefit redemption in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as reduce disparities in program delivery.

“Too many women and children in New Jersey are missing out on the nutrition they need in order to thrive. We are proud to be a part of this critical initiative and to identify new ways of connecting people to WIC.  This collaboration will allow us to bring WIC services to the community to mitigate barriers such as transportation and access,” said Susan Stephenson-Martin, director of Rutgers NJMS’ WIC program.

Establishing community collaborations provide an opportunity to not only increase WIC enrollment at the community level, but to also focus on increasing WIC awareness and enrollment among underserved Portuguese speaking families and immigrant families in the Northern part of Newark.

“We are excited to partner with Rutgers NJMS WIC, Programs for Parents and South Ward Promise Neighborhood to increase awareness and education about WIC in our neighborhoods and to ensure that eligible families are able to fully participate in all the services WIC offers,” said Andrea Martinez-Mejia, executive director of the Greater Newark Health Care Coalition.

Reaching more families with WIC will have positive impacts on the community. WIC has been shown to provide a wide range of benefits, such as longer and safer pregnancies, with fewer premature births and infant deaths, and improvements in the following areas: dietary outcomes for infants and children, maternal health, and performance at school, among others. In addition to health benefits, WIC participants have shown significant savings in health care costs, when compared to non-WIC participants.
WIC CIAO is administered through a USDA cooperative agreement with the Food Research & Action Center, in partnership with the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, the Native American Agriculture Fund, and Unidos US. WIC CIAO is part of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service broader initiative to modernize WIC.  

To learn more information about the WIC CIAO program in the City of Newark, visit or email