Wiring WIC


New America

New America

May 23, 2022
1:00pm — 3:00pm ET

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of nearly every sector of our society from business, to education, to healthcare. Yet technology remains underutilized in America’s safety net programs, which is a missed opportunity to help those in need during times of significant hardship. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in which nearly 50% of all infants born in America are enrolled faced unprecedented challenges over the past two years. Participants struggled to access their benefits when essential components of the program — like shopping in person for WIC eligible foods, enrolling or attending in-person recertification clinic appointments to maintain eligibility — became increasingly difficult due to lockdowns, food supply shortages, and the closure of agency clinics.

Join the WIC Health and Technology Initiative on Monday, May 23rd from 1pm to 3pm EDT to discuss strategies for modernizing WIC with technology to strengthen the program now and in the years ahead.

For nearly five decades, WIC has served as an indispensable resource for low-income families providing access to healthy foods, breastfeeding counseling, nutrition education, and referrals to other health services. But despite WIC’s track record of accomplishments, the program is not reaching or meeting the needs of all of its beneficiaries. In 2019, only 57 percent of eligible people participated in WIC. Alarmingly, as children grow older, fewer participate in the program, with a sharp decline after infancy.

Leaders from the WIC Health and Technology Initiative — a project of New America in collaboration with the Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the MIT Media Lab supported by the Rockefeller and Aetna Foundations— convened experts in public health, nutrition, design, and technology to identify interventions to “wire” WIC with cutting edge technologies, exploring a range of opportunities to leverage mobile phones, apps, the internet, social media, texting, video-conferencing, and other innovations. At the Virtual Symposium on May 23rd, findings from this pioneering initiative will be presented with recommendations for how technology is strengthening WIC today and in the future. 


  • Susan Blumenthal, MD, MPA, Director, Health Innovations Lab, New America; Former US Assistant Surgeon General; and Rear Admiral (ret)
  • Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Dava Newman, PhD, Director, MIT Media Lab and Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D - MI), Chairwoman, US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
  • Senator Roy Blunt (R - MO), Ranking Member, US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
  • Rajiv Shah MD, President, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Amanda Renteria, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Code for America
  • Rachel Colchamiro, Director, Nutrition Division, Massachusetts Department of Health
  • Harry Zhang, PhD, Professor, Community & Environmental Health, Old Dominion University
  • David Kong, PhD, Director, Community Biotechnology Initiative, MIT Media Lab
  • Jennifer Loyo, PhD, RDN, Principal Consultant, Limetree Research
  • Hildreth England, MS, RDN, Director, HESTIA Design; Former Assistant Director, OpenAg, MIT Media Lab
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