SWEETWATER COUNTY — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Sweetwater County with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Loving Support Award of Excellence for exemplary efforts in supporting breastfeeding WIC mothers. These awards are part of USDA’s National WIC Breastfeeding Week, celebrated August 1-7.
“WIC serves millions of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women and their young children,” said Cheryl Kennedy, Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator. “We recognize the hard work and effort that occurs at the State and local levels to provide this important benefit to all WIC participants, and the Loving Support Award of Excellence celebrates local agencies that provide exemplary breastfeeding programs and support services.”
WIC agencies that have operated a peer counseling program for at least one year and meet all of the required core components of the WIC Breastfeeding Model for Peer Counseling, including recruiting and hiring from WIC’s target population and being available to WIC clients outside usual clinic hours, are eligible to apply for the award.
The award program was established to recognize local WIC agencies that have provided exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support activities. The intent is to highlight successful models and motivate other local agencies to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among WIC participants. Awards are given at three levels of performance: Gold, Gold Premiere, and Gold Elite.
Sweetwater County WIC, located in Rock Springs, leverages its partnership with Sweetwater County Community Nursing to provide services to postpartum mothers and their infants within one week of delivery. Though peer counselors maintain relationships with their clients and provide personalized, hands-on support throughout pregnancy, reconnecting with clients during this critical first week of motherhood is instrumental to their success. As a result of the dedicated efforts of Sweetwater County WIC staff, the agency became one of only twelve WIC agencies nationwide, and the only one in the eight-state Mountain Plains Region, to receive a Gold Premiere level award this year.
The WIC Program serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care. More information about the WIC program can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/WIC.