Santa Rosa, CA – August 24, 2021 – The County of Sonoma’s Women-Infants-Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) has received national recognition from the United States Department of Agriculture. The Loving Support Award of Excellence at the Gold Premiere level recognizes and celebrates Sonoma County’s exemplary breastfeeding programs and support services. County of Sonoma WIC is the only agency in California to receive the Gold Premiere Award.
“We’re proud of this recognition from the USDA, which highlights and amplifies the importance breastfeeding has on the development of our babies,” said Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “As a parent, I know how important it is to get a healthy start for our children and how critical these support programs are for our mothers.”
This is the third time that Sonoma County’s WIC program has been honored with the USDA’s Breastfeeding Award of Excellence.
“It is clear that WIC staff is dedicated to providing exemplary breastfeeding support services to our most vulnerable population,” said Tina Rivera, Interim Director of Health Services. “From providing nutrition education to loaning electric breast pumps, WIC counselors and staff make a positive impact for Sonoma County’s pregnant women, mothers, and young children.”
Staff include nutrition assistants, registered dietitians, and breastfeeding peer counselors, as well as a lactation consultant who is international board certified. All staff receive continuous education and support to improve their breastfeeding counseling skills and every staff member receives the 25-hour Breastfeeding Peer Counseling training.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of age 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.
“Families are getting the support they need to give their infants a healthy start thanks to the hard work of the WIC team,” said Aileen Rodriguez, County of Sonoma WIC Director. “WIC promotes equity, so families can have healthier outcomes regardless of their socio-economic status.”
The County of Sonoma WIC program has continued to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. All appointments are completed over the phone. Virtual lactation consults are also being provided. 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.
Potential participants can apply for WIC if they are low-to-moderate income, pregnant, expecting a baby, or have recently given birth. Families may 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.