Many families filled the auditorium at the Franklin Neighborhood Center on Thursday, August 6, to celebrate worldwide Breastfeeding Awareness Month with Women, Infants & Children (WIC) of Santa Barbara County, a breastfeeding and nutrition program for low-income women and their children. The program connects women with the resources they need to pump breast milk while at work, to prepare healthy meals for young children, and to receive parenting support in bilingual groups led by consejeras, or peer counselors.
Several S.B. County nonprofits, such as William Sansum Diabetes Center (WSDC), passed out educational pamphlets on nutrition in Spanish and English as well as healthy snack samples and easy recipe books. Marissa Duprey, WSDC staff member, spoke to families about diabetes prevention. Her colorful Velcro board encouraged children to test their food health knowledge by categorizing items such as broccoli and a cheeseburger by fat content. The Hi-C juice box on display showed how much sugar — nearly 30 grams — is in most juices marketed to children. Duprey said that the idea is to provide parents with accessible resources to prevent diabetes with the hope that they use them.
Mothers and their children, many already receiving assistance through WIC, visited booths, learned about free county family services, and took home diaper samples, reusable grocery bags, and fresh bags of fruit and vegetables.
Guest speaker Dr. Takashi Wada, Director for the Public Health Department, praised the WIC breastfeeding program as part of the reason that “Santa Barbara has one of the highest breastfeeding rates in the state.” Congressmember Lois Capps shared her own story of feeling unsure of whether to breastfeed as a young mother and applauded WIC for supporting women who choose breastfeeding and inspiring others with “the confidence to think — I want to do that [too].” Supervisors Salud Carabajal and Janet Wolf gave brief speeches in enthusiastic support of WIC families. WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator Meg Beard also spoke about the health benefits of breastfeeding infants.
Many families entered their names into a raffle, which was pulled at the end for prizes including two car seats, a stroller, diaper bags, and a gift card to Chaucer’s Books.