NE: 5 Group Nutrition Education Sessions

Effective Date: 07/09 Downloads: PDF Version    Revised Date: 04/17


The Federal Regulations require that women and children participating in the WIC Program receive four nutrition education contacts during each certification period and infants receive nutrition education at a quarterly rate. Because of the large numbers of participants in each clinic and because of the frequent duplication of information given during counseling, group sessions are suggested as a way of providing nutrition education more efficiently.  When setting up group sessions, lesson plans need to be written and approved by the local agency nutritionist or the State Office.


Group sessions shall be administered by a certified CPA or Nutritionist / RD, who shall utilize a counseling method or teaching strategy to deliver nutrition education in an interactive and engaging manner that offers the participant ample opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback.

Required Procedures:

Staff shall select counseling methods/teaching strategies from the following list as appropriate to the participant’s needs, cultural preferences and learning ability:

A.  Participant Centered Learning;

B.  Motivational Interviewing;

C.  Facilitated Group Discussion;

D.  Demonstrations, such as food or physical activity demonstrations; or

E.  Other state approved counseling methods or teaching strategies.

Staff shall select strategies for group sessions that engage the participants in:

A.  Identifying goals or important issues, and

B.  Creating solutions that work for them.

Local agencies (LA) shall use lesson plans and materials for nutrition education that are written at an appropriate literacy level, contain current, accurate, and scientifically based information and be offered free of charge.

Required Procedures

  1. The nutrition professional shall direct the development and selection of the lesson plans and materials.
  2. The LA shall use lesson plans and nutrition education materials developed by the State, or curriculum approved by the State which was created by local WIC agencies and/or are selected from other reliable sources. (Please see Appendix NE: A Lesson Plan Template)
  3. The LA shall ensure: a) the participant is in an appropriate class based on their categorization; b) that only one major goal is set to be accomplished during the lesson; c) the lesson is a reasonable length of time (between 15-20 minutes), and d) the lesson provides objectives toward reaching the major goal of the lesson.

The LA shall offer nutrition education to participants in all categories on healthy eating and active living.

Group Standards

Groups should generally be between a minimum of fifteen and a maximum of twenty minutes long. Facilitators will ask open-ended questions and participants will be encouraged to take part in the discussion. Optimum group size should be between 3 and 10 participants. If the group size is too small, participants should be provided with individual nutrition education counseling.

Participants must have the opportunity to receive handouts that explain the material covered in the group session. Handouts must be provided in the language in which the group was facilitated.

Participants who have already received group nutrition education on the lesson’s topic must receive individual nutrition education on an alternate subject. Since participants should only receive group nutrition education on a particular subject once, the subjects covered in lessons should be rotated periodically.

Lessons must include verbal interaction between the facilitator and the group, even if using an audiovisual. If technology is used, it should illustrate or enhance information for the client, therefore should be used sparingly (less than 10 minutes per session). Any audiovisual should be introduced by the facilitator so participants understand why and what they are looking at. After using the audiovisual, the facilitator should ask for feedback from the group and give them a chance to reflect on what they have seen or experienced. The facilitator should provide needed clarification and answer any questions that arise.

Group Nutrition Education is not appropriate for:

  • High risk clients who have not been seen by a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist or who do not have an individual nutrition care plan.
  • Participants where session topic does not relate to category, risk, and/or personal preference.
  • Participants whose language differs from that in which the class is provided.

Nutrition Education Documentation

Attendance at a group session, including date and subject of the lesson, must be documented in the participant’s file on the Nutrition Education Documentation Form (see NE: 2 for documentation standards and format)