Sonoma County’s Women-Infants-Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) agency has received the Loving Support Award of Excellence from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“The Sonoma County WIC program has continued its excellent work to support breastfeeding, a practice linked to nutritional and emotional benefits for Sonoma County infants,” said Susan Gorin, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “WIC’s high-impact programs connect parents and families to food and educational resources that put infants on the path to social and intellectual well-being as they grow into school-ready children. In partnership with local hospitals, health care providers and families, WIC ensures high-quality, culturally responsive programs to achieve the healthiest outcomes for Sonoma County residents.”
The award recognizes and celebrates local WIC agencies that provide exemplary breastfeeding programs and support services. The County WIC program was one of three agencies in the state of California to receive this award.
“We are so pleased that the County of Sonoma WIC agency has won, for the second time, the USDA Loving Support Award of Excellence for providing exemplary breastfeeding support. Now, in this time of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to protect the health of babies, and providing immune protection through breastfeeding is an excellent way to give babies a strong foundation,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s Health Officer.
“This award brings recognition to all our staff, who are making a difference every day. WIC is playing an important role in decreasing health inequities in Sonoma County by giving low-income mothers the support they need to breastfeed their babies. This timely award comes during National Breastfeeding Month,” said Aileen Rodriguez, County of Sonoma WIC Director.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and continue to be breastfed until 12 months of age or longer as mutually desired. Breastfeeding is a cost-effective, preventive measure that reduces infant illness and death, supports optimal growth and development and reduces the risk of several short- and long-term health problems for infants and mothers.
The County of Sonoma WIC establishes a strong training program for all staff to understand the benefits of breastfeeding and reinforce with their clients the value of breastfeeding. Every staff member of Sonoma WIC received the 25-hour Breastfeeding Peer Counseling training.
The County of Sonoma WIC continues to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. All appointments are completed over the phone. WIC participants receive nutritional education, breastfeeding support and counseling as well as resources and referrals to public health programs. Additionally, WIC participants receive electronic food benefits each month to purchase healthy food in our community. Potential participants can apply for WIC if they are low to moderate income, pregnant, expecting a baby, or have recently given birth. Families can also apply for WIC if they have infants under 12 months old or children under the age of five. If a member of the public is interested in learning more about enrolling in WIC, please call (707) 565-6590.