Eight of North Carolina’s WIC and Public Health offices earned Breastfeeding Awards of Excellence from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service this year. Six won the Gold Award, and both of the Premiere Awards given this year were claimed by WIC offices in North Carolina.
Breastfeeding Awards of Excellence are earned based on a variety of performance measurements of breastfeeding, which include the effectiveness of the office’s peer counselor program, and the extent to which the agency has partnered with other entities to build a supportive breastfeeding environment for women participating in WIC. The exemplary awards are given at three levels of performance that build on one another – Gold, Premiere and Elite.
“Award winners are WIC agencies that support WIC breastfeeding goals through the highest-quality breastfeeding promotion and support activities and serve as models for other local agencies to strengthen breastfeeding among WIC participants,” said Willie C. Taylor, FNS Southeast Regional Administrator. “We congratulate those clinics in the Southeast region that are doing outstanding jobs of helping women access WIC Breastfeeding Support services.”
Breastfeeding offers significant health benefits. It lowers a baby's risk of various illnesses, including ear infections, asthma and respiratory infections. It helps moms recover much faster from childbirth, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain breast and ovarian cancers.
This is the first time Granville Vance Public Health, Haywood County WIC and Catawba County Public Health WIC have achieved the Gold award. This is the second Gold award for Appalachian District Health Department, Iredell County Health Department and Piedmont Health Services WIC Program. Pender and Buncombe counties join a select group as they are the only local WIC agencies in the southeast region to achieve the Premiere award twice – Buncombe was first awarded the Premiere Award in 2018 and Pender in 2019.
“The Community Services Section of NCDHHS celebrates this work to implement a model breastfeeding peer counselor program,” said State Breastfeeding Coordinator, Chiara Phillips. “We applaud the agencies' daily work to sustain exemplary programs.”
The following WIC agencies are this year’s award winners for the state of North Carolina:
- Appalachian District Health Department
- Catawba County Public Health-WIC
- Granville Vance Public Health
- Haywood County WIC
- Iredell County Health Department
- Piedmont Health Services WIC Program
- Buncombe County WIC
- Pender County WIC