Value Enhanced Nutrition Assessment (VENA) Guidance

Assessment Nutrition Education

A participant-centered, health outcome-based approach

VENA is a participant-centered, health outcome-based approach to a WIC nutrition assessment, which is a required and essential part of the WIC program. It's used to determine eligibility, through identifying nutrition risks, and to personalize WIC nutrition services, and is the starting point for designing all WIC nutrition services.

VENA puts the participant's needs and the goal of a healthy outcome at the core of WIC nutrition services. A WIC nutrition assessment using the VENA approach systematically collects and evaluates information elicited from the participant, while at the same time, allows staff to engage the participant in dialogue about her needs and goals of healthy behavior.

The VENA Guidance is designed to assist State and local agencies in their efforts to provide high-quality nutrition services and strengthen WIC nutrition assessment through continuous quality improvement and customer service efforts. The VENA Guidance complements the WIC Nutrition Services Standards and other WIC policy and guidance documents.

Features of the Updated VENA Guidance

The updated VENA Guidance includes practical information to help State and local agencies put the VENA approach into practice. Features include:

  • Tips from State and local WIC staff.
  • A focus on language to help WIC staff recognize the impact of terminology and the importance of plain language and participant-centered phrasing.
  • A framework for a health outcome-based nutrition assessment for each participant category.
  • Sample springboard assessment questions and probing questions for nutrition/health objectives.
  • A crosswalk of health objectives and WIC nutrition risks for each participant category.
  • Example observation tools used to evaluate VENA practices.
  • Definitions of key terms.

Find WIC State agency-developed tools, training, and materials to support the VENA initiative.

Value Enhanced Nutrition Assessment Guidance
Developed by: USDA, Food and Nutrition Service
Publication date: November 2020