Talking about WIC with Elected Officials
Policymakers want to know what’s happening in their specific districts and states. Before you arrive at a meeting with an elected official, gather WIC data for your state and/or congressional district. NWA has produced WIC profiles for every state specifically for the purpose of advocacy visits with elected officials. Another effective part of a meeting with an elected official is sharing stories of WIC participants. Collect one or two compelling stories before your visit to demonstrate the impact of WIC in people’s lives and on communities.
NWA encourages you to incorporate some of the key messages and talking points below into your advocacy communications. Consistently communicating these messages and talking points will help mitigate misconceptions about WIC and hopefully integrate them into the broader political discourse about WIC. It is important to convey WIC’s value through specific supporting examples. Provide examples that you are comfortable speaking about.
WIC is efficient and leads to healthcare cost savings.
- WIC participation is associated with improved birth outcomes, including fewer low-birth weight and very low birth-weight babies.
- Moms on WIC seek prenatal care earlier in their pregnancies and are more likely to carry their pregnancies to term.
- WIC helps to ensure normal physical growth and development in children, reduces levels of anemia, and improves access to healthcare and social services.
- WIC prevents unfavorable health outcomes by targeting nutrition health risks.
- Clients are assessed for specific nutritional needs and given targeted nutrition education.
- WIC provides participants with a food package tailored to them.
WIC empowers parents and caregivers, giving them the tools to raise healthy, productive members of society.
- WIC gives parents and caregivers information, tools, and support to be the parents they want to be.
- WIC is a time-limited program that gives families the tools to make healthy decisions for the rest of their lives.
- Through tailored education, WIC supports families in making informed choices about their infant feeding plan.
WIC is a hub, connecting families with the support they need and ensuring efficiency and coordination between programs.
- Children who participate in WIC are more likely to receive regular healthcare and experience fewer childhood illnesses, such as ear infections, stomach viruses, and colds.
- Children participating in WIC for at least one year are 1.7 times more likely to have two or more dental visits per year than children who never participated. Children between ages one and two have lower dental-related Medicaid costs compared to children who do not participate in WIC.
- Children who participate in WIC have higher immunization rates than children in families with similar incomes who do not participate in WIC.
WIC is a short-term program that can lift multiple generations of families out of poverty.
- Having a baby can put an extra financial strain on families. WIC is a supplemental program that helps fill in the gaps to make sure families can afford healthy foods.
- WIC starts children off on the right foot. It improves cognitive outcomes, setting kids up to lead productive lives.
Remember to tailor your messages to each specific audience you are approaching. For example, if your audience is the office of the Senator of Nirvana, you will want to address issues and topics specific to Nirvana’s WIC programs. If she is a Democrat or a Republican, you will want to tailor your messages accordingly. Don’t forget to check the websites of your members of Congress to learn more about their interests and values.
There are particular messages that are bound to gain the attention and possibly support from a Republican lawmaker versus a Democratic one and vice versa. This applies not only to the message but also to how you frame it. It is important to tailor your messages to each policymaker, talking about WIC in a way that matters to them rather than uniformly. Thankfully, WIC is a beneficial program for so many reasons and WIC key messages can be tailored to appeal to policymakers from both parties.
Both parties favor lowering healthcare costs. WIC saves money by lowering the amount of costly medical care for high-risk births and improving the health of our nation’s women and children. Preparing healthy children to enter schools ready to learn will also likely resonate with both parties.
No matter your own political views, it is important to tailor your intended messages to respect the policymakers you meet. You don’t want to risk unnecessary argument with your policymakers or their staff by ignoring their interests. You want to form good relationships with policymakers and staffers to build support for WIC. As with anybody you are meeting with in order to persuade them, you want to demonstrate what is in your proposition for them.
So always consider your audience and communicate with them according to the way they approach the issues.
Messaging to Democrats
With the values and goals described below, you can frame key WIC messages and your personalized messages when speaking to most Democrats. You may emphasize that WIC is grounded in science, empathy, and compassion. Use examples from your community.
- Communication: Greater together than on our own
- Everyone gets a fair shot, plays by the same rules
- Scientific research plays a big and necessary role in education and knowledge
- Ending loopholes for the rich, cutting taxes for less wealthy individuals
- Making healthcare available to all Americans, expanding health insurance coverage, making it affordable
Messaging to Republicans
With the values and goals described below, you can frame key WIC messages and your personalized messages when speaking to most Republicans. You can emphasize how historically, WIC has strong bipartisan support and strengthens families, communities, and America.
- Limited government (against imposing federal intervention and control)
- Maximizing individual freedom
- Promoting healthcare competition and choice, lowering healthcare costs, and focusing on personal responsibility
- Reducing government regulations and increasing state and local control and flexibility in program implementation
More Help With Talking to Elected Officials
When Does Advocacy Become Lobbying? Describes the differences between advocacy and lobbying and how you can advocate without stepping into the territory of lobbying.
Developing Strong Advocacy Messages: Describes how to create effective advocacy messages.
Contacting Elected Officials: Provides tips for contacting policymakers, leading effective WIC advocacy meetings, hosting site visits, and other activities involving elected officials.
Engaging the Media to Promote WIC: Provides tips on how to engage traditional press as well as social media to advocate for WIC.
Telling Your WIC Story: Why and How: Provides guidance for effective WIC storytelling through verbal and written stories as well as photography and videos.
Evidence-Based WIC Advocacy: Explains how to effectively use data and statistics in your advocacy messages.