(INDIANAPOLIS) – Six Indiana Women, Infants and Children (WIC) agencies have been awarded the Loving Support Award of Excellence from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for their work promoting and supporting breastfeeding for WIC families.
IU Health Bloomington’s WIC program received the Gold Premier level of the Loving Support Award from Tim English, USDA Midwest Regional Administrator for Food and Nutrition Services, for achieving a fully breastfeeding rate of 22 percent for their clients over two consecutive years, only the second local WIC agency in the Midwest to reach this level.
These agencies demonstrated achievement of 30 best-practice standards in breastfeeding support, including implementing a breastfeeding peer counselor program following USDA’s Loving Support Model, providing support to WIC participants in person or over the phone, building relationships with local partners to strengthen their local breastfeeding support network and having access to expert lactation support when complex breastfeeding issues arise.
“Breastfeeding helps give babies a strong start in life, has health benefits for mothers and is a key factor in our efforts to reduce infant mortality in Indiana,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “I applaud these WIC agencies and peer counselors for helping to support breastfeeding so that both mother and baby see improved health outcomes.”
These agencies received the Gold level of the Loving Support Award of Excellence for their efforts:
- Elkhart County Health Department;
- Interlocal Community Action Program;
- New Hope Services;
- Johnson County Health Department; and
- Whitley County Health Department
IU Health’s WIC program in Monroe and Greene counties achieved the Gold Premier level of the Loving Support Award by achieving a fully breastfeeding rate of 22 percent over two consecutive years. It is only the second local WIC agency in the Midwest to reach this level. “Having strong, local agencies providing support for women in their communities is such an important job, and I am proud of our WIC offices for taking on this challenge and excelling,” said Laura Chavez, director of Indiana WIC, which is administered by the Indiana State Department of Health.