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USDA Announces WIC Breastfeeding Award Winners

SAN FRANCISCO, August 18, 2021 – Today, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Western Regional Office recognized outstanding WIC agencies in the region for the work they have done to strengthen breastfeeding programs in their communities. The recognition program is part of FNS’s WIC Breastfeeding Awards of Excellence program. One hundred and one awards were handed out across the country, including six in the Western Region.

“USDA established the award program to recognize local WIC agencies that have provided exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support to WIC moms,” said Jesus Mendoza, Jr., FNS Western Region’s Regional Administrator. “The intent is to provide models to help other WIC clinics strengthen their breastfeeding programs to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates nationwide.”

The award is given at three levels of performance that build on one another: Gold, Premiere, and Elite. In the Western Region the following WIC clinics have received awards:

  • Gold
    • Riverside County (Calif.)
    • Sacramento County Department of Health Services (Calif.)
    • San Francisco Department of Public Health (Calif.)
    • San Mateo County (Calif.)
  • Premiere
    • County of Sonoma (Calif.)
    • Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (Wash.)

Some strategies developed by the awardee clinics to increase breastfeeding and duration rates include:

  • Offering WIC participants personalized breastfeeding support and ongoing assistance,
  • Providing WIC clinic environments that support and promote breastfeeding, and
  • Collaborating with community partners.

USDA also announced the 2021 WIC Breastfeeding Performance Bonus Award winners, who were the top six state agencies with the highest rates of fully breastfed infants that did not receive bonus awards in 2020 or in both 2018 and 2019. In addition, these were the top six state agencies with the highest rates of fully breastfed infants that did not have a decrease in breastfeeding rates from 2019 to 2020. In the Western Region, the Northern Mariana Islands and Oregon received bonus awards.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as WIC – serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care. A major goal of the WIC program is to improve the health of babies and moms through breastfeeding; WIC serves about half of all babies born in the country and is uniquely positioned to help moms successfully breastfeed. More information about WIC can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/wic.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov. 

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