LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) presented the Loving Support Award of Excellence to Arkansas’ Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) at the grand opening of the first breastfeeding room at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) within an academic school.
The USDA Loving Support Award of Excellence is presented to local WIC agencies that have provided exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among WIC participants.
The Arkansas WIC program was selected due to its work in promoting breastfeeding duration and exclusivity in communities where breastfeeding may not traditionally be the norm, through programs like the creation of breastfeeding rooms and nooks.
Such breastfeeding rooms and nooks are considered a best practice in early childcare centers because they allow mothers adequate space and time to pump, breastfeed and store milk upon returning to work. In addition to the UAPB breastfeeding room, ADH has continued to help create a number of breastfeeding nooks and rooms throughout the state, including at Philander Smith College, UA Little Rock, Junior League of Little Rock’s Holiday House, Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, RiverFest, the Arkansas State Fair and more.
“We are so glad to be able to support nursing mothers by giving them a comfortable spot to breastfeed or pump,” ADH Deputy Director for Public Health Programs Renee Mallory said. “There are many benefits for both the mother and baby who breastfeed, and it is a priority for us to encourage breastfeeding in all parts of our state.”
August is National Breastfeeding Month. Breastfeeding helps a baby’s digestion and helps them fight against various illnesses both in infancy and later in life while helping mothers lose weight during pregnancy and reduce risk of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
The new nursing room located in the early childcare center at the UAPB Health Sciences building will be able to assist both students and employees who are nursing as well as mothers enrolled in the center. The room was created through a collaborative effort of UAPB, the ADH and the Arkansas Breastfeeding Coalition, and it is funded by the Association for State Public Health Nutritionists’ (ASPHN) Blueprint and Children’s Healthy Weight COIIN grants.