Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 42
Information that each local and state agency should collect to help achieve this includes (1) how it currently tracks WIC
staff positions by race and ethnicity (2) equitable systemic approaches now in place to ensure that staff composition mirrors
the communities they serve and (3) the racial and ethnic diversity at each agency by position compared with community
racial and ethnic makeup. This information should be made publicly available.
A straightforward approach would be for local and state WIC offices to
consider hiring community health workers and other local staff and training
them to respond to the needs of their own community and the needs of the
local office. Changing recruiting practices and job requirements will help
identify candidates in an equitable way. The goal should be for each office
to have office demographics that mirror those of their communities by 2030.
Racial and ethnic diversity should be present at all levels of seniority, not
only in entry-level positions. The National WIC Association can help monitor
these transitions, perhaps through a national campaign.
For more on recommendations
for WIC hiring practices,
please contact the National
Association of Professional
and Peer Lactation Supporters
of Color (NAPPLSC) and
• The National WIC Association should oversee a baseline assessment of
each WIC office. It was difficult for Bread researchers to make a comprehensive assessment of local WIC offices’
levels of understanding and activity to promote racial equity. An equitably designed baseline assessment, completed by
staff, community representatives of color, and recipients of color, would capture the strengths and weaknesses of the local
office and enable all stakeholders to formulate an action plan to ensure that all policies and practices reflect the principles of
• The National WIC Association and the USDA should increase accountability of frontline staff in each office. Due to
historical trauma (see glossary), trust in government programs among people of color has been lost. Some people do not
feel comfortable reporting offenses, and others do not have faith in the systems to hold staff accountable for their actions.
We recommend hiring organizations of color on the ground as well as WIC recipients of color to conduct a study to
research and brainstorm equitable ways of holding frontline staff accountable. The reason for this is because filing a
complaint (which is the current process now) does not take into account existing power dynamics both with race and class
that lower income recipients of color confront, nor does it consider previous historical trauma between communities of
color and U.S. government programs.
• The National WIC Association should support the National Grocers Association’s efforts to apply a racial equity
lens to policies and practices in its member stores. This could be in the form of training on applying a racial equity lens
during the National Grocers Association’s178 annual conference.
Establish a mechanism for SNAP beneficiaries to equitably participate
in program design, planning, and evaluation
Currently, WIC does not have a formal process for honoring the lived experience of experts of color who receive benefits
from their program. Part of achieving racial equity means that the voices of people impacted by WIC are actively sought out
and included in the decision-making process.
USDA and the National WIC Association should:
• Encourage clinics to host racially representative focus groups to gather community feedback. Potential topics include
what is working well, what could be improved, and what are the remaining barriers preventing women and their children
from fully participating. Some centers encourage participation in these discussions by offering giveaways of needed items
such as diapers, wipes, and other toiletries (see Appendix 20). Other organizations have offered honoraria in recognition of
the time and the first-person insights into program effectiveness that beneficiaries offer. Respondents should not be asked
for their names or other identifying information because of the historical trauma of government’s collecting the names of
people of color, only to use them later for actions unrelated to the stated purpose.
APPLYING RACIAL EQUITY TO U.S. FEDERAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: SNAP, WIC AND CHILD NUTRITION