SALT LAKE CITY — The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children of Utah County has been awarded the Loving Support Awards of Excellence for WIC mothers as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National WIC Breastfeeding Week.
The WIC program encourages and supports the health of low-income pregnant, breast-feeding and postpartum women, and infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk. The organization uses federal grants from the USDA to provide nutritious foods, nutrition education and offer referrals to health and other social services.
Utah County's WIC is one of eight WIC locations in the Mountain Plains Region that received the award. The award honors organizations that display exemplary efforts in supporting breast-feeding through effective peer counseling programs and local community partnerships.
"Our local WIC program staff are committed to empowering mothers to breast-feed,” said Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator Darlene Barnes in a statement. “They address societal barriers, enhance peer counselor programs, build key coalitions and more. Their work is absolutely vital and deserves recognition.”
The WIC Loving Support Awards of Excellence provides models of success designed to motivate other WIC agencies in their areas in order to increase breast-feeding rates among WIC participants.
“There is no better food than breast milk for a baby's first year of life,” said Barnes. “Increasing breast-feeding rates can help reduce the prevalence of various illnesses and improve certain health measures, which in turn lowers future health care costs."
National Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, was approved officially in June by Thomas J. Vilsack, secretary of the U.S Department of Agriculture. In conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week, the purpose of National Breastfeeding Week is to "raise awareness about the benefits of breast-feeding; to strengthen individual, family and community support for breast-feeding; to further strategies that protect optimal breast-feeding practices; and encourage increased breast-feeding rates," according to its online proclamation.
The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2016 is "Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development," which according to the initiative's Facebook page, involves "ecology, economy and equity."
WIC services are are supported by 1,900 local agencies and 10,000 clinic sites. More information about the WIC program can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/WIC.