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posted on September 20, 2011 10:35

Idaho WIC Program Receives National Award for Breastfeeding

The Idaho Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program was awarded a $1.1 million high performance bonus for attaining one of the highest breastfeeding rates in the nation.

The WIC program serves low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women; and children under the age of five who are nutritionally at risk. Last year, almost 45,000 Idaho women, infants and children received monthly services and healthy foods from the Idaho WIC program.

“Breastfeeding is a primary focus of the WIC program because of the health benefits for both the mother and the infant,” says Kris Spain, state WIC program manager. Spain says that breastfed babies show an increased resistance to infections, including ear infections, and a decreased risk of serious illnesses. Long-term health benefits for the child include a reduced incidence of childhood obesity, cancers, allergies and asthma. For the mother, breastfeeding increases the bonding with the baby and also reduces the risk of some cancers. On top of the health benefits, breastfeeding is more economical for the family budget, does not require formula preparation and is convenient and ready whenever baby wants to eat.

Idaho’s WIC services are provided through 50 clinics operated by the seven Idaho public health districts and two Native American health agencies. WIC provides nutrition education, referrals to healthcare and community services, breastfeeding information and support, and supplemental foods from local grocery stores. Last year, WIC provided approximately $48/month of nutritional foods for each WIC participant.

The $1.1 million bonus award, from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, recognizes Idaho for having one of the top three breastfeeding rates in the nation, with 32 percent of Idaho WIC-enrolled infants being fully breastfed. Approximately one-half of the award will go to the local WIC agencies for program improvements, with the remaining funding paying for needed state WIC infrastructure improvements, including information systems enhancements.

Additional information for families interested in the Idaho WIC program is available at:, by calling the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1, or by contacting your local Public Health District.