WIC program honored for supporting breastfeeding

HENDRY AND GLADES COUNTIES — The Florida Department of Health Hendry Glades WIC Program is one of this year’s recipients of the Gold Level Loving Support Award of Excellence! The Loving Support Awards of Excellence highlight successful breastfeeding practices that effectively address breastfeeding barriers via education, support and role modeling with the goal of increasing breastfeeding rates.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
The Clewiston WIC team pictured from left to right include Jose R. Llossas, Melisa Martinez, Rosi Vera and Gloria Rivera.

In order to be eligible for any level of award, applicants must fulfill the criteria identified as best practices, which demonstrate excellence in breastfeeding practices and support, and relate to practices beyond the core components of the WIC Breastfeeding Model for Peer Counseling. Supportive documentation is evaluated and scored at the state, regional, and national level based on levels of performance. The award recognizes agencies that demonstrate model practices, as well as agencies at varying stages of implementing exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support practices. Examples of evaluation criteria include peer counselor effectiveness, breastfeeding rates and community partnerships that build a supportive and enabling breastfeeding environment.

“We are so proud of our WIC Team in Hendry Glades. This is even more of an accomplishment given our displacement from Hurricane Irma. It speaks directly to the dedication of our team as well as our community partners to serve the communities in Hendry and Glades.” Said Joe Pepe, Health Officer and Administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties.

Obesity risk is a grave concern facing WIC agencies because low-income children are at the greatest risk for obesity and are the least likely to breastfeed. Since a major goal of the WIC Program is to improve the nutritional status of infants, WIC mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their infants, and WIC agencies are provided with evidence-based programs and training, such as breastfeeding peer counselors, to support WIC mothers. WIC agencies are the perfect location to reach mothers and build healthy habits early on to reduce their child’s risk of obesity.

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