Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Addressing Nutrition Insecurity Among Vulnerable Mothers and Children

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

March 23, 2018


Long Island





Many Long Island families who live near the poverty level cannot meet basic survival budgets, which increases their risk of nutritional insecurity.

The dangers of nutritional insecurity are especially serious for young children, where the risks for early childhood developmental delays and future cognitive impairment are high. Because lack of nourishment is especially harmful during prenatal development and a child’s first five years of life, nutrition benefit programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), are crucial to providing a continuous source of nutritious food and improving the health of families. However, many Long Island families eligible for nutrition benefit programs are not accessing their benefits. In 2018, NYHealth awarded Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI) a grant to improve access to nutrition benefit programs through enhanced collaboration and referrals between these programs and pediatric providers at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).

Under this grant, HWCLI assembled a working group to improve coordination between pediatricians at FQHCs and nutrition benefit programs with the goal of boosting enrollment for mothers and children. The working group comprised diverse stakeholders, such as SNAP staff, WIC providers, FQHC pediatric staff, and government offices, that conducted a needs assessment to understand the experience of clients accessing nutrition benefit programs at the FQHCs. Participating pediatric providers at the FQHCs used validated screening tools to identify patients with nutritional insecurity and referred them to WIC and SNAP programs. To monitor results, HWCLI collected and tracked referrals through a client database to get an overall assessment of the experience of new mothers and their children accessing nutrition benefit programs and pediatric services at the FQHCs. HWCLI produced a final report to disseminate best practices statewide and nationally, and worked with other organizations to create a replicable statewide model to improve health outcomes for mothers and their children.