How can we encourage eligible Pennsylvania residents to utilize nutritional resources and benefits from PA WIC?
Exploring the Problem
To explore the current state of PA WIC, we interviewed both PA WIC participants and staff members. Additionally, we ran a co-design activity to help participants think more imaginatively about WIC clinic.
- Many participants have an overall negative perception of the program
- Many participants only utilize WIC for the food benefits
- Multiple barriers hinder us from focus on the physical space of the WIC waiting rooms and clinics
Understanding the Experience
Our team knew that in order to design solutions for PA WIC participants, we would need to better understand the lives of participants as well as the PA WIC experience. To do so, we visited clinics, “walked in participants’ shoes,” and conducted narrative-based interviews.
Clinic operations and experiences varied significantly between each clinic.
High uncertainty led to additional effort in the shopping and appointment experiences.
Caregivers are extremely busy and stressed. Resources need to be easily accessible and actionable to fit into their lives.
Reimagining the WIC Experience
We continued to engage with PA WIC participants and staff to better understand their challenges and priorities within WIC.
Reducing the effort regarding keeping track of WIC appointments and benefit plans would greatly improve participants’ experience on WIC.
Participants wanted better access to nutritional resources that fit into their busy lives.
WIC staff feels like many problems WIC faces are outside of their control but are eager to be more involved in the process of improving WIC services.
"It was just too confusing to me and I didn't have the time"
WIC benefits aren't free
Simply staying on WIC can be a lot of work. Having to skip work, plan for appointments and card reloads, and figuring out which items are WIC approved or remaining on their balance are just a few of the struggles that WIC participants experience. With financial benefits playing such an important role in their decisions to stay in the program, families prioritize features that simplified this process.
WIC resources aren’t there
Participants have difficulty finding WIC resources. Participants do not have the time nor energy to parse through these resources.
A lot of the resources are spread out, which makes finding them difficult. Participants don’t just want health and nutrition education, they want immediate answers, catered advice, and valuable support.
"I didn't even know WIC offers classes"
"WIC is there when you run out of food stamps"
WIC is perceived as “just another benefit program”
We found that, for many caregivers, simply providing the food benefits and resources may not be enough. Caregivers are extremely busy and often struggle to balance nutrition with convenience and cost. Families needed more support to integrate these foods and resources into their lives. For PA WIC to more effectively influence the family’s nutrition, their support needs to extend beyond the infrequent contact and scripted interactions they have now.
Building long-term nutritional habits require more engagement
Developing healthy habits can be very difficult. PA WIC wants to help their participants develop long-lasting and positive healthy habits. However, things like effort, lack of access, and minimal integration support demotivate participants from forming these habits in the first place. Without WIC, many former participants go back to their previous habits. PA WIC must implement support and resources that enable participants to integrate healthier habits into their lives.
What does this mean?
WIC families deeply care about their nutrition and health.
However, in order to receive the most value from PA WIC,
caregivers need resources that require minimal effort, are personalized, flexible, and supportive.
How did we do this?
Check out our design process