Carlton County Peer Breastfeeding Support Program awarded the USDA “Loving Support Award of Excellence” at the Gold Premiere level!
Each year the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) announces the Loving Support Award of Excellence program. The award program was established to recognize local WIC agencies that have provided exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support activities. The intent is to provide models and motivate other local agencies to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among WIC participants.
Jenny Barta, Certified Lactation Specialist, Coordinator for Carlton County Peer Support Program, and Co-Coordinator for Northeast Region shares, “We realize that breastfeeding can be challenging at times, so we work diligently in this program to come along side women and help them prepare to initiate breastfeeding during that “golden hour” after birth and to continue to provide support via phone and text after mom and baby return home. Peer Breastfeeding support services was set up to give moms the help they need, any time, any day, long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we have been able to continue to provide that much needed support during this unprecedented time. This excellent service deserves to be recognized because of the support that Carlton County’s Peer Counselor and WIC staff are providing to WIC participants in our County.”
The award is given at three levels of performance that build on one another: Gold, Premiere, and Elite. This approach recognizes three groups of agencies that include those that are demonstrating model practices, as well as those who are at varying stages of implementing exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support practices. Carlton County is one of the first WIC programs in MN to receive the Premiere level award!
The Carlton County WIC Program provides breastfeeding education and offers peer support services to all pregnant and breastfeeding women. Carlton County Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, Alyssa Olson says, “I chose to be a Peer Counselor because there is nothing better than time spent nourishing my baby and helping all my fellow breastfeeding mamas with encouragement and kindness.” In 2019, 89.6% of women who participated in WIC at Carlton County initiated breastfeeding with their infants, which exceeds the Healthy People 2020 goal of 81.9% (Data from MN WIC Information System)!
Carlton County Peer Breastfeeding Support is part of the NE Region WIC Peer Breastfeeding Support group, consisting of nine Peers working in eight local WIC programs in the seven counties of the Arrowhead region. Pam Galle, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Northeast Peer Program Co-Coordinator says, “NE MN WIC Peers are a critical connect for families during these challenging times. Peers are like a trusted friend providing contact & information when it is needed most. Families participating in this program have significantly better breastfeeding outcomes both initially and as babies grow. Peers, through their dedicated support of families in our region, are contributing to the health of our communities.”
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding an infant under one year of age, and are interested in qualifying for WIC and Peer Breastfeeding Support services, please contact your local county or tribal WIC agency or visit: https://www.health.state.mn.us/people/wic/eligibility.html.