USDA honors Mile Square for exemplary breastfeeding program

Gold Loving Support Award; Mile Square Health Center

Mary Monroe and Charlotte Torres of UI Health’s Mile Square Health Center accept the Gold Loving Support Award. Pictured (left to right) are Jessica Gadomski, Bindi Desai Lessing, Mary Monroe, Charlotte Torres, Tim English and Stephanie Bess.

Administrators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture visited UIC on Aug. 24 to present the Gold Loving Support Award of Excellence to UI Health’s Mile Square Health Center for its exemplary Women, Infants and Children (WIC) breastfeeding program.

“I am so excited to represent the USDA to recognized and celebrate the achievements of Mile Square Health Center in operating an outstanding breastfeeding program,” said Tim English, Midwest regional administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition Services.

“Mile Square has met rigorous requirements using the Loving Support model and this award is a recognition of that success,” he said. “They are getting it right.”

The award is given to centers around the nation to celebrate their work promoting breastfeeding, specifically increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among participants in the WIC program. WIC is a federally supported supplemental nutrition program for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and for infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Mile Square Health Center is one of 78 recipients of the award. Mary Monroe, WIC program coordinator at Mile Square, said the award is something in which she takes a lot of pride.

“It’s really about the work we do every day with our peer counseling program,” Monroe said.

Also attending the event were Charlotte Torres, WIC peer counselor at MSHC; Jessica Gadomski and Bindi Desai Lessing, State of Illinois nutrition consultants for the Cook County region; and Stephanie Bess, director of the Illinois WIC program.