Retail RDN Role with WIC & SNAP
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food stamps, are the two main programs that offer nutrition assistance to low-income families. While most every retailer participates in these programs there are strategic ways for retail dietitians to engage and educate eligible shoppers, help drive incremental sales and positively impact public health. Consider these opportunities to:
- Engage internally: Research indicates that retailers are not maximizing WIC programs and may be leaving money on the table. Find out what department oversees the WIC and SNAP programs for your stores and find out what challenges or needs they may have. Ensure they are familiar with the expertise you could offer to educate customers and drive sales to increase access to high quality foods for families.
- Connect shopper needs to solutions: WIC and SNAP users are looking for ways to stretch both their food and budget. In relation to this, they may need some simple cooking skills for family meals. Think of the ways you could meet these needs with meal ideas and tips for reducing waste. For example, provide meal starter bags that include nutrient-rich WIC foods with recipes and menu solutions to help stretch food dollars. Develop cooking videos and budget-friendly shopping tips to correspond with the weekly meal starter contents. Link recipes and menu plans digitally to online ordering. (Online shopping is one area that the USDA is quickly expanding for WIC and SNAP users to better serve recipients. Retail requirements are provided here.)
- Create partnerships for success: Many dietitians who work with WIC and SNAP participants would appreciate partnering with a retailer which could help drive more referrals to your stores. Sharing resources and training WIC interns, for example, to conduct budget-friendly meal planning tours could expand awareness of your in-store offerings and signage. Manufacturer partners and commodity groups may also offer solutions and tools for success. Kellogg’s Healthy Beginnings program provides excellent resources and recipes utilizing WIC ingredients and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan has a variety of free educational materials, for families and children, that can be mailed out in state or sent digitally for out-of-state requests. Look for ways that you can create potential partnerships with your suppliers and local communities.