Three North Carolina WIC agencies – Buncombe County, Cabarrus Health Alliance and Toe River Health District – have been awarded the WIC Breastfeeding Award of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for exemplary breastfeeding support practices.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is funded by the USDA. County health departments along with community and rural health centers provide WIC Program services, with support from NCDHHS’ Community Nutrition Services Section in the Division of Family and Child Well-Being.
The award recognizes local WIC agencies with successful breastfeeding practices that address breastfeeding barriers through education, support and role modeling. The goal of the award is to help other local WIC agencies strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding rates among WIC participants.
To achieve the recognition, a local WIC agency must have implemented the Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program, WIC’s mother-to-mother support program. This program is one of the most impactful initiatives developed to increase breastfeeding rates. As a Buncombe County WIC Participant stated, “I feel this program is amazing…my peer counselor, Kim, would always call in the nick of time when I had a breastfeeding question. Despite being around moms and babies, I had so many questions and she was able to answer. I feel so fortunate that I was able to breastfeed.”
Buncombe County, Cabarrus Health Alliance and Toe River Health District local WIC agencies are committed to ensuring that WIC participants are supported to reach their infant feeding goals. Each has demonstrated a proven track record of success, with more than 82% of their WIC participants initiating breastfeeding. This exceeds the State’s average of WIC participants initiating breastfeeding of 72%.
Sixteen local WIC agencies in North Carolina are currently designated as WIC Breastfeeding Award of Excellence winners. North Carolina is part of the USDA’s Southeast Regional Office (SERO), which encompasses eight states and two tribal organizations. SERO continues to be the region with the greatest number of local WIC agencies designated as WIC Breastfeeding Award of Excellence winners.