The community health center is one of just 11 organizations nationwide to receive the Premiere designation from the USDA.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND, SEPTEMBER 5, 2023 – CCI Health Services (CCI), one of the largest and leading community health centers in Maryland, announced today that the organization’s WIC program has been awarded the 2023 WIC Breastfeeding Premiere Award of Excellence for Exemplary Breastfeeding Support and Practices by the USDA. CCI is one of just 11 organizations nationwide to receive the award’s Premiere designation.
“The whole WIC team is immensely grateful to receive this prestigious recognition,” said Jose Luis Diaz, CCI’s WIC Executive Director. “Understanding the importance of breastfeeding during the formative years of life, our team takes great pride in offering a robust and effective program that improves health outcomes for our youngest neighbors. It’s an honor to receive validation from the USDA, which holds WIC agencies to high standards.”
Each year, the Food and Nutrition Service, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children announces the WIC Breastfeeding Award of Excellence program, formerly known as the Loving Support Award of Excellence. The award program was established to recognize local WIC agencies that have provided exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support activities. The intent is to provide models and motivate other local agencies to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among WIC participants.
The award is given at three levels of performance that build on one another: Gold, Premiere, and Elite. This approach recognizes three groups of agencies that include those that are demonstrating model practices, as well as those who are at varying stages of implementing exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support practices.
This year’s award recognizes CCI’s leading breastfeeding initiation rate and effective service delivery. 2022 marked the third consecutive year CCI’s WIC program maintained the highest rate in Maryland at 88.6%, 14% higher than the national average. Breastfeeding prevents common infections and illnesses and protects babies from adverse health effects throughout life.
“We attribute our remarkable initiation rate to our outstanding team of breastfeeding peer counselors,” said Diaz. “Their knowledge, expertise, and passion for breastfeeding make them uniquely equipped to educate our program participants in a direct, relatable, and compassionate way.”
CCI’s WIC program also offers a host of services for parents and their children to foster wellness, including personalized nutrition counseling, referrals to health and social services, and tailored food packages. Moreover, CCI’s WIC participants have access to CCI’s comprehensive health services, which include primary care, dental care, behavioral health care, prenatal care, and family planning.
In 2022, CCI’s WIC program served over 30,000 participants across five sites throughout Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The program also holds annual events for WIC participants, offering attendees on-site services, educational resources, and supplies. The most recent event – WIC Back to Work Shower – took place on August 30 and sought to help new parents learn more about breastfeeding at work to smooth the transition back into their careers after giving birth.
CCI’s WIC program is ready to help any individuals who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or with children under the age of five. Residents in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are encouraged to call (301) 762-9425 to learn about eligibility requirements and schedule a WIC consultation.
CCI WIC centers:
200 Girard St. Suite 212-B
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
1401 University Boulevard East,
Hyattsville, MD 20783
7474 Greenway Center Drive
Greenbelt, MD 20770
2730 University Blvd West
Suite LL10 (in lower level)
Wheaton, MD 20902
About CCI Health Services: Founded in 1972, CCI is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides quality and affordable health care to patients in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. In addition, CCI empowers historically underserved populations with resources and advocates for a more equitable health care system.